Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez began the opening free practice session in Abu Dhabi shod on the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tires before switching to the harder Yellow soft compound later in the session.
Grosjean set a quick time of 1:45.600 on his eighth lap while on the supersofts to secure 12th on the timesheets. His runs on the softs proved unproductive. A pair of lockups and a spin at the first corner of the 5.554-kilometer (3.451-mile), 21-turn circuit just as the session hit the one-hour mark resulted in an early exit from FP1 with only 13 laps in the books. Having flat-spotted his only set of soft tires, the team turned its attention to preparing for FP2.
Gutiérrez enjoyed a drama-free outing but, unlike Grosjean, his fastest lap came on the Yellow soft tires. Gutiérrez secured his quick time of 1:45.925 on his 10th lap during his second stint, which placed him 14th overall. Gutiérrez’s best drive on the Red supersofts was a 1:46.319, earned during his first full run at speed. He ended FP1 with a six-lap run on the same set of Yellow softs he used to secure his quick time. When FP1 was over, Gutiérrez had tallied 20 laps.
As the sun began to set, FP2 began in earnest. Gutiérrez was fastest for Haas F1 Team with a best time of 1:43.012, good for 13th quickest. He earned the fast time during a qualifying simulation on his 12th lap while riding on a set of Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tires. Gutiérrez began the 90-minute session with an eight-lap baseline run on Red supersofts before switching to the ultrasofts. And after completing his mock qualifying runs, Gutiérrez spent the final 30 minutes of FP2 working on a 19-lap run, with the first seven laps coming on a set of used supersofts before pitting for a set of used ultrasofts. When it was over, Gutiérrez had logged 35 laps.
“I think we maximized our track abilities today,” Esteban said. “We managed to complete the whole program, which was important for us to get a good feeling for the car, especially with the temperatures being very different between practice one and practice two. It’s important to understand how that affects our car. We have plenty of data to look at. We’ll work tonight to understand everything and make the right choices for tomorrow.”
Grosjean’s FP2 started solidly with a seven-lap baseline stint on a new set of Yellow softs. Like his teammate, Grosjean switched over to the ultrasofts for a qualifying simulation, whereupon he earned the 14th-fastest time with a lap of 1:43.108 on his 13th tour of the track. Unfortunately for Grosjean, that was as good as it would get. His long run was compromised just three laps in courtesy of a water leak. After a quick evaluation in the garage, the team was forced to terminate Grosjean’s session with a valuable 25 minutes of track time still left on the clock and only 17 laps completed.
“Not the easiest Friday we’ve ever had,” Grosjean explained. “We had some issues this morning with that spin, and some mapping issues and the braking. We did well and worked hard to sort that out for FP2. Then, unfortunately, in FP2 we had the issue with the water leak which meant we couldn’t do our long run.”
“I’ve been struggling to get the tires to work. We initially had a good run in the day, but then after that we struggled a bit more. That’s going to be the main concern for our work tonight. We know that FP3 tomorrow won’t be representative of the rest of the weekend. Hopefully, we make the right guess for qualifying and the race.”
Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 85 laps – 55 by Gutiérrez and 30 by Grosjean.