Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton fastest in FP1

The Brit was 0.3 quicker than title rival Nico Rosberg, as the Red Bull duo kept the Mercedes' honest. Sergio Perez splits the Ferrari's as Jenson Button's final FP1 is curtailed and Romain Grosjean has yet more brake issues in his Haas.

Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton fastest in FP1
Despite a spin at T6, Lewis Hamilton still ended FP1 0.374s up on Nico Rosberg. (Image Credit: Sutton Images)

Lewis Hamilton ​set the early pace in practice for the title deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, getting the better of team-mate and championship rival Nico Rosberg by 0.374s.

The Brit's quickest time was a 1:42.869, set on the soft tyres, and was the only man to break the 102 second mark in the final morning practice of the season.

Behind the two Mercedes, came Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo ​with the Dutchman lapping just 0.054 down the W07 Hybrid in his Red Bull RB12.

​Sebastian Vettel ​was busy giving the Halo one of its longest workouts of the year, and ended up in fifth place, whilst ​Sergio Perez was sixth quickest for ​Force India, ahead of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen ​donw in P7.

Carlos Sainz Jr was P8 for Toro Rosso, who bettered the time of the retiring Felipe Massa ​to leave the ​Williams in P9. Marcus Ericsson ​made a rare appearance in the top 10 for ​Sauber.

Lack of grip, punctures and spins

After a quiet opening to the session, it took until 15 minutes in for the first time of thr weekend to be set, Rosberg doing the honours on a set of UltraSoft tyres, having been second last to lave the garage. Last man out Hamilton couldn't match the early benchmark, as both Mercedes suffered from understeer, in the final sector in particular.

At the end of a difficult season, ​Danill Kvyat 's left-rear Pirelli ​blew just as he was passing the pit-lane entry. He was forced to go round, before stopping his ​Toro Rosso ​at T8, having completed only four laps, and not set a representative time, his fastest effort being 19s off Hamilton's pace.

A lack of grip was an apparent theme, with Jordan King, stepping in the Mnaor ​for FP1 to replace ​Esteban Ocon ​the first to lose it down at the T5/6 chicane. Massa then quickly followed suit, before Hamilton joined the fun, losing his rear-end and spinning the W07 Hybrid.

Verstappen, on Soft tyres took P3 with just under an hour on the clock, although he was still more than 0.5s down on the pace being shown from the Mercs.

Throughout 2016, a reoccuring pattern has been ​Romain Grosjean being openly critical of his ​Haas's ​ braking performance. After a lairy moment down at T5, under braking for T1, the rear stepped out on him, and he had a half-spin before continuing on his way. The struggles Haas have had with the ​Brembo ​material has been well documented. "It needs to be sorted, as it's not normal" commented the Frenchman.

Romain Grosjean once again gave less than optimal reviews about the Haas under braking after spinning at T1. (Image Credit: Formula One)
Romain Grosjean once again gave less than optimal reviews about the Haas under braking after spinning at T1. (Image Credit: Formula One)

Problems for Button

In the second half of the session, nothing of note happened, as long-runs began, as teams trialed set-up improvements and bagan to understand how the tyres are going to perform. The pening 90 minutes aren't that representative of the conditons for Sunday's race, as the session got underway at 13:00pm local time and the race gets underway at 17:00pm local time.

In the final FP1 of his 305 race career, Jenson Button, ​was forced to miss the final 30 or so minutes of running, as his ​McLaren ​had developed an ERS issue. The team told him to box in slowly, before they got to work. Surrounded by family members, Button is sporting a special tribute helmet to his 2009 Brawn Championship wininng year as he prepares to bow out of Formula One after 17 seasons.

Hamilton then set ultimately quickest time of the session, the 1:42.869, as Rosberg also improved, but was still quite a way back, as the Red Bull's were hot on their heals.

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - First Practice classification
Position Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:42.869
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +0.374
3. Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.428
4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +0.493
5. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +1.136
6. Sergio Perez Force India +1.286
7. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +1.687
8. Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso +1.816
9. Felipe Massa Williams +2.170
10. Marcus Ericsson Sauber +2.299
11.

Alfonso Celis Jr

FP1 driver, replacing Nico Hulkenberg

Force India +2.607
12. Romain Grosjean Haas +2.731
13. Felipe Nasr Sauber +2.909
14. Esteban Gutierrez Haas +3.056
15. Valtteri Bottas Williams +3.071
16. Jolyon Palmer Renault +3.350
17. Kevin Magnussen Renault +3.503
18. Fernando Alonso McLaren +3.510
19. Pascal Wehrlein Manor +3.589
20. Jenson Button McLaren +4.258
21.

Jordan King

FP1 driver, replacing Esteban Ocon

Manor +4.689
22. Danill Kvyat Toro Rosso +19.120