Bottas fastest in opening two practice sessions despite crashing with Grosjean
Valtteri Bottas crashed with Romain Grosjean in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Bottas set the fastest time of the day’s concluding running before colliding with the Haas driver at Turn 11 of the Yas Marina Circuit.
Bottas dived underneath Grosjean in the braking zone for the right-handed corner before the two made contact with both suffering damage to their cars.
“What the f*** was that?” said Grosjean over the radio. Bottas pointed the finger of blame at the accident-prone Frenchman. “He drove into me and didn’t leave any space,” said the Finn.
Lewis Hamilton, who trailed his Mercedes team-mate by a third of a second, was informed that it was Grosjean who had collided with Bottas. “I could have guessed,” said the world champion in a thinly-veiled dig at Grosjean.
The unusual practice accident has been noted by the stewards with both drivers to appear before the stewards here on Friday evening.
Up until the flashpoint, Bottas had enjoyed an encouraging day after setting the fastest times in both sessions.
However, the Mercedes driver will start Sunday’s concluding race of the season from the back of the field following an engine change. Bottas retired from the previous race in Brazil with an oil leak.
Bottas’ penalty leaves Hamilton in a strong position to see out another championship-winning campaign with his 11th win of the year.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished the night running in third place, 0.386 seconds off Bottas’ pace with his team-mate Sebastian Vettel fourth.
It was not the smoothest of practice sessions for Ferrari after Vettel crashed out on Friday morning before Leclerc hit the barriers later in the day. The Monegasque driver thudded the wall on the exit of Turn 19 but escaped without damage.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who won in Brazil a fortnight ago, finished fifth, half-a-second slower than Bottas. Alex Albon was sixth in the sister Red Bull.
Lando Norris, taking part in his last grand prix as a rookie, was 12th, one place behind his McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz.