Verstappen leads Red Bull one-two in first practice | 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix first practice

Max Verstappen led the two Red Bull drivers in first practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but was frustrated again by a suspected engine braking problem on his car.

Engine braking has frustrated Verstappen repeatedly this season, notably in Mexico, where he blamed it after losing pole position to team mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Verstappen reported he had “a lot of rear locking just from the engine braking” early in the session but was told “we’re not entirely sure that it’s the engine braking that’s causing the issue.” “I’m pretty sure it’s that,” he replied. “The engine is still doing that same thing so it makes me just drift into the corner,” he added later in the session.

Nevertheless Verstappen set a best time of 1’38.491 which put him almost a full second quicker than any non-Red Bull driver. Ricciardo was second, just under half a second slower. Both drivers used the hyper-soft tyres.

The Mercedes pair were next, Valtteri Bottas leading Lewis Hamilton. The latter, who is unusually running both his regular number 44 and the number one on his car this weekend, reported his car felt “unhappy” around the Yas Marina circuit.

Esteban Ocon was a surprising fifth as the Ferrari drivers concentrated on aerodynamic work and switched to the super-soft tyres for the second half of the session. Kevin Magnussen also demoted the red cars to seventh and eighth.

Carlos Sainz Jnr was ninth-fastest for Renault while Romain Grosjean completed the top 10. The former had a brief spin at turn 19 near the end of the session.

Test drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Robert Kubica stood in for Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez respectively. Leclerc’s team mate Ericsson lost time when he spun into a barrier and broke his front wing early in the session.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

First practice visual gaps

Max Verstappen – 1’38.491

+0.454 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’38.945

+0.961 Valtteri Bottas – 1’39.452

+1.052 Lewis Hamilton – 1’39.543

+1.611 Esteban Ocon – 1’40.102

+1.744 Kevin Magnussen – 1’40.235

+1.926 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’40.417

+1.962 Sebastian Vettel – 1’40.453

+2.097 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’40.588

+2.172 Romain Grosjean – 1’40.663

+2.180 Pierre Gasly – 1’40.671

+2.532 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’41.023

+2.584 Sergio Perez – 1’41.075

+2.646 Brendon Hartley – 1’41.137

+3.002 Lance Stroll – 1’41.493

+3.171 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’41.662

+3.437 Marcus Ericsson – 1’41.928

+3.623 Stoffel Vandoorne – 1’42.114

+3.822 Fernando Alonso – 1’42.313

+4.501 Robert Kubica – 1’42.992

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Browse all 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix articles