Teams find their feet during opening practice before showing more representative pace as darkness falls over Yas Marina ahead of this weekend’s Abu Dhabi season finale.
Positive signs for Infiniti Red Bull Racing whose drivers Sebastian Vettel – making his final appearance for the team – and Daniel Ricciardo end both sessions inside the top-six.
Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat breaks the top-10 in both sessions, while team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne ends FP1 sixth.
Newly-crowned FIA Formula 3 European champion Esteban Ocon turns heads on FP1 debut with Lotus F1 Team after finishing within 0.4sec of Pastor Maldonado.
Caterham F1 Team returns to the grid after a two-race absence with Kamui Kobayashi and Formula Renault 3.5 race winner Will Stevens.
Rémi Taffin, Head of Track Operations:
‘Red Bull in the hunt’
I think it’s been a pretty strong day, especially for Red Bull Racing who are very much in the hunt for another podium. They’ve had a very solid day Power Unit-wise with nothing to report. But we have seen that tyre degradation looks set to be a factor on Sunday so I’m expecting pitwall strategy to have a bearing on the result. That’s something RBR and Sebastian managed very well in Brazil.
Once again Toro Rosso look like they have good pace, so hopefully that will translate into potential for both drivers to make Q3 tomorrow. Daniil’s enjoyed a trouble-free day and was very consistent throughout en route to seventh and ninth. With this being the final race all the teams are using some old parts, and it was one of those – in the ERS-H system – that cost JEV some time this morning. It’s had no impact though.
There was also some good news down at Lotus F1 Team where Pastor’s current PU surpassed 4,300kms, proving that our newer spec components are getting closer to next season’s reliability targets when only four PUs will be available. On the other side of the garage Romain and the team made a strategic decision to introduce some new components instead of trying to run beyond the parts’ limits.
Finally, it’s good to have Caterham back with us this weekend. They have encountered no PU problems at all, which allowed them to focus on other areas.