Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton fastest from Ocon in second practice
In the only practice session to take place in similar conditions to qualifying and the race, FP2 got underway in twilight conditions, with temperatures 10 degrees cooler than in FP1, which Verstappen topped earlier in the afternoon.
Kimi Raikkonen led the pack out of the pits for Alfa Romeo, the Finn establishing the first place benchmark at 1m26.603s as he ran the hard tyres.
That was soon beaten by his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi, who produced a 1m26.550s on the medium tyres with his first timed lap of the session, before the Italian was demoted by Valtteri Bottas’ 1m25.339s, also set on the mediums.
Lando Norris then took over at the top spot with a 1m25.153s, using the softs, before Hamilton closed out the opening five minutes by moving in front on a 1m25.127s using the mediums.
Five minutes later, Norris moved back ahead with 1m25.072s as he continued to lap on the softs, but this was deleted as the McLaren driver had slide beyond the white line at the final corner – a mistake that was later repeated by Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso.
Following in Norris’s wake, Hamilton improved the first place benchmark to a 1m24.943s in any case, as his own opening run of the session continued until the end of the first 15 minutes, at which point the Briton pitted after setting a new fastest time at 1m24.126s.
That put him nearly a second clear of Verstappen at this stage – the Dutchman another driver to lose a time to infringing track limits at the final corner – with Bottas and Nicholas Latifi ending their opening runs with offs in the final sector.
Bottas slapped the wall hard exiting Turn 14, the corner that leads out from underneath the Yas Marina circuit’s track-straddling hotel, with his right rear, and had to pit so Mercedes could assess his W12 for damage.
Latifi lost the rear of his Williams through the proceeding Turn 13 left, directly underneath the hotel, a few minutes later, doing considerable damage to his rear wing endplates.
Bottas was able to return to the track after a few minutes, the first frontrunner to switch to the softs for a qualifying simulation effort, but he was unable to better Hamilton’s then session-leading time, ending up 0.146s adrift.
But after Alonso had lost a time that snuck him in ahead of Bottas for his slip off the road at the final corner, the soon-to-be former Mercedes driver went so a second go on the same set of softs and improved to take the top spot with a 1m24.083s.
Hamilton and Verstappen then appeared on the softs, but neither was able to better Bottas’s time on their first runs, after which Ocon moved ahead with a 1m24.034s for Alpine.
Both title contenders then went for further single-lap efforts, with Verstappen failing to better his personal best on his second go, which happened to Hamilton before he was able to find enough time on a third flying tour on the softs to retake the top spot definitively with a 1m23.691s.
That put him 0.343s clear of Ocon, with Bottas 0.392s back and Verstappen down by 0.641s.
Sergio Perez took fifth in the second Red Bull, ahead of Alonso, who would’ve been fourth had his deleted best time on the softs stood, Yuki Tsunoda, Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly.
The field switched to long-run data-gathering for the rest of the session – and for the final time in 2021 – which featured little action other than Bottas and Nikita Mazepin locking up and going off into the runoff at the Turn 16 right that starts the section underneath the W hotel, right up until Raikkonen’s session ending shunt.
With just over one minute of FP2 remaining, Raikkonen lost the rear of his Alfa as he ran through Turn 14 deep into a long-run on the hard tyres.
His car swung around wildly and hit the same barrier Bottas had earlier clipped hard enough to heavily damage the left-front and left-rear corners, with the rear wing also destroyed.
The session was quickly red-flagged and was not restarted, with Raikkonen ending up 16th in the final classification.