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Motor racing-Verstappen edges Bottas in Abu Dhabi practice as Hamilton makes quiet return

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pipped Valtteri Bottas to top the timesheets in Friday’s opening Formula One practice session for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton made a quiet return to action.

The Dutchman set a time of one minute, 37.378 seconds to go 0.034 seconds quicker than Bottas with Hamilton 1.3 seconds slower in fifth.

The 35-year-old Hamilton, who missed last week’s Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19, suffered brake problems that sent him back to the garage just three laps after he hit the track.

The Briton was back out with half the 90-minute session still to run.

Yet Hamilton, who has already wrapped up a record-equalling seventh world title, set his best time on the slowest hard tires compared to the quickest softs used by Verstappen and Bottas.

Frenchman Esteban Ocon, fresh from having secured his maiden Formula One podium last week in Sakhir, was third for Renault.

Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, who spun on what would have been his quickest lap, was fourth.

Lance Stroll was sixth for Racing Point ahead of team mate Sergio Perez.

The Mexican, who celebrated an emotional first Formula One win last week, is carrying power unit-related penalties and is set to start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid.

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