ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas had the fastest time Friday in the second practice for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and was also involved in a crash.
The Finnish driver swerved into the side of Romain Grosjean’s car as the Frenchman was passing Bottas down the right, sending both spinning across the track. Bottas, who was quickest in the first practice earlier Friday, appeared to be most at fault.
The accident prompted Grosjean to let out a loud expletive over the team radio, but Bottas was quick to shift the blame onto the French driver.
“He turned in on me and didn’t leave any space,” Bottas said.
Bottas had already done enough to post the leading time, finishing .310 ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and .386 clear of Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc under the floodlights at the Yas Marina circuit.
Leclerc improved his speed after clipping the barriers coming out of Turn 19, in the same place where teammate Sebastian Vettel had earlier crashed during the first practice.
Turn 19 proved to be problematic, with Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi narrowly avoiding a similar crash in the evening.
In first practice, Bottas finished .535 seconds ahead of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and .634 ahead of Hamilton.
Hamilton clinched his sixth world title two races ago, and celebrated by briefly swapping the No. 44 on his car bonnet for No. 1.
Just before the end of the first session, Vettel misjudged the entry into Turn 19 and needed a gearbox change. Earlier, Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo stalled with an engine failure, causing oil to leak onto the track.
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Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press