Valtteri Bottas led Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in a practice one-two at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday before being reprimanded for a collision with Haas driver Romain Grosjean.
The Finn, who was also fastest in the opening session, improved on his afternoon benchmark with a lap of one minute 36.256 seconds under the Yas Marina floodlights.
The 30-year-old was 0.310 seconds quicker than Hamilton, who was third in the morning and looked strong around the 5.5km layout.
Hamilton, who wrapped up his sixth Formula One title two races ago in Texas, said he had struggled to get into rhythm but was also experimenting with an eye on 2020.
“I’ve been trying to explore some new avenues with the car. We already know where it works well, so I’m pushing the car into different places, just trying to see if there’s anywhere else I can exploit the car and the tires for the future,” he said.
Bottas is set to start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid, however, with the Finn penalized for exceeding his engine allocation.
His second session was far from flawless, with a rare coming together with Grosjean on a day when nothing is at stake.
The Mercedes suffered a broken front wing after the Finn tried to dive through on the inside of the Frenchman, whose car was also damaged.
The stewards’ report said Bottas had accepted responsibility. The reprimand was his first of the season.
“I thought he had seen me going for the overtake on the inside, but by the time I realized that he hadn’t seen me, there was no way for me to escape anymore,” said Bottas.
Motor racing: Bottas reprimanded but sets the pace in Abu Dhabi