Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton (8/11 Fav – Fastest Qualifier) was fastest in second practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday before declaring the season finale will be “super close”.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen topped the timesheets in P1, clocking a time of 1:25.009, with the Silver Arrows pair of Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton in second and third, respectively, after the opening session.

However, the British driver, who is 8/15 to win a record eighth world championship, managed to turn things around in P2 as he went round quickest with a lap time of 1:23.691, while title rival Verstappen was only fourth.

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon produced a fine display to finish second, putting down a time of 1:24.034, while Bottas was third and the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez was down in fifth.

It was an intriguing first day of the season-ending Grand Prix and Hamilton, level on 369.5 points with Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship, believes it will be a closely-fought battle until the end.

“I feel great,” he said, as quoted by Sky Sports. “Still a bit of a bit of unknown in terms of pace but I’m sure it’s going to be super close.”

Speaking about his performance over the two sessions, Verstappen, 11/8 to win his maiden world title, said there were positives and negatives to take heading into Saturday.

He said: “Of course clearly the short run didn’t go to plan, lacking a bit of pace. But I think the long runs were quite a bit more competitive.”

Verstappen is 7/4 with Betfred to qualify on pole for Sunday’s race, which he can be backed at 15/8 to win.

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