Happy Lewis Hamilton said he was ‘super excited’ to be back in action on Friday after being the second fastest for Mercedes behind teammate Valtteri Bottas in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix training this week-end. The seven-time champion, who missed the Sakhir Grand Prix last weekend due to a Covid-19 fight, admitted he needed a few laps to settle down again. “I was very happy and grateful to be back and to end the season feeling strong,” he said.
“I felt super excited like it was my first day back to school.
“It took a while in the first session to get used to it again, but the second was better, so not too bad overall … We got most of our stuff done.”
He added that it had been “a bit of a messy day with a lot of stuff, but we went through it like we always do.”
Asked by Sky Sports F1 about his reaction to seeing compatriot George Russell in his car last weekend, Hamilton said he was impressed.
“I think George did a great job as everyone knows,” he said.
“He was at home in the car. For me it was really strange because I’ve never missed a race in 27 years of racing.
“Someday, I’ll write a book about it, but for now I’ll leave it at that!”
He said he didn’t feel the need to impress this weekend, but wanted to take advantage of the season’s closing event.
“I don’t think I need to do more than I did this year,” he said.
“I don’t think it matters at all – I just want to enjoy it, be here and be with my team again. It’s a privilege.”
Finn Bottas, hampered by the superior pace of Hamilton substitute George Russell, “borrowed” from Williams, at the Sakhir Grand Prix last weekend, responded with a determined performance on the Yas Marina circuit.
Bottas clocked a fastest lap in one minute and 36.276 seconds to get ahead of Hamilton, back after a Covid-19 fight that forced him to miss an F1 race for the first time, by 0.203 seconds.
Max Verstappen finished third for Red Bull, seven-tenths adrift, at the end of a session that started and ended with tire tests and was also interrupted by a red flag period after the engine Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari Alfa Romeo caught fire.
His pressured Red Bull teammate Alex Albon finished fourth ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, Renault’s Esteban Ocon, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Daniel Ricciardo was ninth for Renault ahead of Lance Stroll in second Racing Point while Russell, the “heartbreaking hero” of last weekend, finished the session in the Williams pit after power problems.
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