Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen vie for upper hand in Abu Dhabi practice

Title protagonists Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen traded fastest times in the opening two practice sessions ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The pair are locked on 369.5 points heading into Sunday’s race at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Both enjoyed topping the timesheets on the first day of running here, Verstappen fastest in the morning before Hamilton dominated the second session.

The alterations around the Yas Marina circuit saw Verstappen run over 12 seconds faster than the quickest time in the corresponding session here last year.

The Dutchman’s Red Bull set the early bar at the altered track, posting a time of one minute 25.009 seconds to finish 0.346secs clear of Hamilton, who was third behind his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

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The second session, under the Yas Marina floodlights, went the other way as Hamilton set about showing the pace in his Mercedes.

The seven-time world champion was impressive setting a time of 1:23.691s, with Verstappen only able to come in fourth-fastest, 0.641 adrift.

Alpines’ Esteban Ocon was closest to Hamilton in second, still some 0.343 off the pace, with the sister Mercedes of Bottas in third.

Verstappen edged out team-mate Sergio Perez, with the Alpine of Fernando Alonso sixth and Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri seventh.

The top 10 was completed by the Ferraris, with Charles Leclerc faster than Carlos Sainz, and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.

The session ended prematurely as the retiring Kimi Raikkonen crashed out on his final race weekend in Formula One.

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