ABU DHABI -- Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time in a tight opening practice session for the final Formula One race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Although both championships were decided several races ago, the battle between Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull rages on, with drivers from the top three teams split by just 0.148s. New world champion Lewis Hamilton was second fastest, 0.120s off Vettel, while Red Bull's Max Verstappen finished third with a time 0.028s off Hamilton.
Hamilton was the fastest of the three drivers in sectors one and two, but lost time to Vettel and Verstappen in Abu Dhabi's tight sector three -- a sequence of slow-speed, off-camber corners. Vettel's time was clocked later in the session than Hamilton and Verstappen and was set on ultra-soft tyres seven laps old.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest, 0.512s off Ferrari teammate Vettel and 0.223s faster than fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas in fifth. Sergio Perez broke into the top six for Force India with a time 1.167s off Vettel, while keeping the two McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne at bay in seventh and eighth. Felipe Massa was ninth fastest in the final FP1 ahead of his retirement at the end of the season, while Daniel Ricciardo finished out of position in tenth in the second Red Bull.
George Russell was 11th fastest after completing another FP1 session with Force India. The GP3 champion will hand the car back to Esteban Ocon for FP2, but will be pleased to finish the second practice session of his career with another 26 laps of experience under his belt.
Romain Grosjean finished 12th for Haas despite a late spin at Turn 19, in which he clipped the barrier. The damage was not too bad as he was able to rejoin for a further four laps and a practice start at the end of the session.
Lance Stroll finished 13th in the Williams -- 0.858s off teammate Massa but with an engine down on power compared to his teammate after a gearbox problem blew his intended race engine during practice in Brazil.
Pierre Gasly was 14th fastest for Toro Rosso ahead of the Renault of Carlos Sainz, the Sauber of Pascal Wehrlein and the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg. Toro Rosso and Renault are in a battle for sixth place in the constructors' championship, but although the times looked close Renault did not use the ultra-soft compound tyre, which should be worth an extra 0.8s in performance.
Antonio Giovinazzi finished 18th during a Friday test run for Haas ahead of Marcus Ericsson's Sauber and the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley. Hartley completed 35 laps in FP1, more than any other driver, but is facing a 10-place grid drop after the team replaced his car's MGU-H ahead of the session.