Verstappen fastest in Abu Dhabi practice

ABU DHABI (Agencies): Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had a comfortable advantage over Mercedes’ George Russell in second Friday practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

As the final race weekend of the season began, Verstappen was 0.341 seconds quicker than Russell, who won the Sao Paulo Grand Prix last weekend. Verstappen did not take part in the first session, in which Lewis Hamilton headed Russell to a Mercedes one-two. Hamilton was fourth in FP2, behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

World champion Verstappen sat out the first session so Red Bull could comply with the rules governing young driver testing and give Liam Lawson a run but was immediately up to pace in the second. He was fastest both on the single-lap qualifying simulation runs and on the later race simulations, when cars run with full tanks.

In those, Russell was about 0.3secs off Verstappen, with Leclerc’s Ferrari a further 0.5secs adrift. Hamilton’s run was disrupted by traffic but appeared on a similar performance level to Russell’s.