Max Verstappen was in a hurry during the second practice session after overtaking three cars, including Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, in the pit lane; watch qualifying for the Abu Dhabi GP live on Sky Sports F1 at 2pm on Saturday, with lights out on Sunday at 1pm
Saturday 25 November 2023 10:05, UK
Max Verstappen appeared to accuse Lewis Hamilton of being "a bit silly" after overtaking the Mercedes driver and others in the pit lane during Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice.
Friday's second practice, which is the most crucial of the weekend's three practice sessions as it takes place in the same evening conditions as qualifying and the race, was heavily disrupted as two red flags took away half of the 60-minute running time.
When the session resumed for a second and final time with just 16 minutes remaining, Red Bull's Verstappen opted to make some aggressive manoeuvres to clear Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate George Russell, along with Alpine's Pierre Gasly.
Each appeared to consider blocking Verstappen before eventually leaving enough room for the world champion to move clear.
Speaking after finishing third in the session, Verstappen said: "They have to move!
"They are all driving slow and I want to go out because we are all limited on time and they keep on driving in the middle. Then I went to pass, they try to squeeze me in the wall. So a bit silly."
Verstappen's pit-lane overtaking does not breach any rules, but was described by Sky Sports F1's Damon Hill as "silly".
Verstappen finished third in practice, which was the only session before qualifying that was held in twilight conditions.
He was 0.173s behind pace-setter Charles Leclerc, with Lando Norris in second. The three-time world champion says his team have "a lot to figure out" ahead of qualifying.
"From our side, the balance was very off - a lot of understeer, a lot of jumping, so definitely a few things to figure out for tomorrow," said Verstappen.
"I also didn't expect to be so far off, so that's also a bit of a question mark for us. We are still P3, it's not too bad but balance-wise it can be a lot better, so we'll try to have a look at what to do there."
Red Bull are more competitive than Mercedes though, on a weekend where the rivalry between both teams flared up after Christian Horner's comments that Lewis Hamilton's father, Anthony Hamilton, had been in contact with him over a potential drive.
Hamilton, who will be going two seasons without a win if he's not on the top step of the podium this Sunday, says he was not happy with his Friday.
"Not the greatest of days. I only got four timed laps, which is not a lot in a day in terms of your knowledge of the car and the track. The car doesn't feel bad. We are not in a terrible place. I just hope we get some more running tomorrow," said
"I'm going to try and see if there's a way to get into Q3. We've had difficult qualifying sessions and getting out of Q1 into Q2, for example, is always a tough battle and even getting into Q3 is a challenge.
"The work tomorrow morning has to just be making sure we can get into Q3. I think it's going to be close. George is looking good, so he might be in a better place, but he didn't miss P1. I'm not going to make any excuses, I'm just trying to go and get on it tomorrow."
McLaren had their worst weekend since the start of the season last time out in Las Vegas, with both cars out in Q1 and Norris enduring a big crash in the race.
Both drivers were competitive again though on Friday in Abu Dhabi as Norris was Leclerc's closest challenger in second practice.
"It was decent, messy of course, not many laps today. I got comfortable and confident very quickly, which is always important on a day where you miss FP1," explained Norris.
"For just one session today, I was happy. The car was obviously quite quick. Definitely a bit to find. I think it's going to very close here in qualifying tomorrow, so one or two-tenths is easily five-six positions come tomorrow afternoon.
"We're in a good position definitely. We're more confident and comfortable than we were in Vegas and a few other races, but not many high-fuel long-run laps that I managed to get to in today, actually zero.
"So we're a little bit behind from a long-run perspective but maybe I can make up for that tomorrow."
Piastri ended the evening session in 10th but revealed he made "a couple of mistakes" on his best lap and is happy with the completeness of the car.
"I think Q3 is definitely the minimum. Lando showed the pace of the car now. I'm pretty confident if I can get everything together I can be there as well," he said.
"Maybe we didn't fully see what Red Bull's pace was like today, but I think we're fighting well and truly at the front."
Ferrari have taken their strong Vegas form into Abu Dhabi as Leclerc topped second practice and thinks the weekend will now be similar to a Sprint event after the red flags in the evening.
"I mean I only did one lap on the mediums and straight away a lap on the soft and it was feeling pretty good, so it's a good sign when it starts like this," said Leclerc.
"I hope we can have a great weekend from now on but it's true that Mercedes also looks strong. They looked a little bit less strong compared to FP1, but we still have got a lot of work to do because we will be fighting with them this weekend.
"We'll wait before saying it's a strong circuit for us. We still have to prove it tomorrow in qualifying and then tyre management will be the biggest thing this weekend and we know that we have to be prepared for that on Sunday, so we'll do our best."
Leclerc's Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz caused the first red flag in second practice with a big crash at Turn Three which left his team with a lot of work to do in order to get the car ready for final practice on Saturday.
Sainz says the car "just snapped" on him and was "like a complete passenger" once losing control of his car.
"For some reason, there's been a change in the track over the years, there's two bumps," Sainz, who is the only non-Red Bull driver to win this year, explained.
"One at the exit of Turn 2 and one at the entry of Turn 3, that with this new generation of cars, it's upsetting the car a lot. It nearly caught me out in FP1, I had to change a few things in the setup and in the line trying to get rid of it.
"For some reason again, in that lap, it surprised me. It must have been an angle or a way that I took the bump and it just made me a passenger.
"We've seen before with this generation of cars that any of these small bumps can really make you make have a pretty heavy crash."
Saturday November 25
Sunday November 26
After the thrills of Las Vegas, Formula 1 heads to Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit for the 2023 season finale and another stunning spectacle under the lights. Watch the Abu Dhabi weekend live on Sky Sports F1, with lights out on Sunday at 1pm. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW