Valtteri Bottas is confident he can fight for pole position and victory in the Formula 1 2018 Abu Dhabi season finale after setting the pace on Friday.

The Finn, who is looking to put an end to his winless 2018 campaign to avoid becoming the first Mercedes driver since Michael Schumacher in 2012 not to win a race, topped the timesheets in FP2.

A 1m37.236s saw him edge out the Red Bull duo heading by FP1 pacesetter Max Verstappen by just 0.044s as world champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth-quickest and over two tenths adrift.

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Bottas took both pole and victory at the Yas Marina Circuit last year and believes he can replicate that performance providing he can find hook up a strong Saturday.

“FP2 was really good, the car felt like I could trust it and drive it the way I want,” Bottas said.

“FP1 was less good, but I think that's pretty usual here. The track is very green when we first go out and it's much hotter during the day than it is in the evening session.

“So I'm glad we got the car to work well in the evening session as it is very difficult to try out set-up changes in FP3 because it is so hot.

“We definitely learned a lot from the runs we did today, especially in the evening, and there are plenty of things we can adjust overnight to find a good set-up for qualifying and the race.

“It's nice to be on top of the timesheets, but we now need to build on that, we need to try and make the right set-up changes and I also need to find more performance from myself. My goal for the weekend is to repeat last year's result, but there's still plenty of work to do.”

Mercedes and Ferrari run 2019 developments parts

Title rivals Mercedes and Ferrari made the most of the unrepresentative conditions of opening practice to test out new development parts ahead of next season.

Ferrari ran a simplified front wing on Kimi Raikkonen’s car during FP1 in preparation for the new aerodynamic regulations coming into play next year, while Mercedes also took the opportunity to try out “a lot” of 2019 development parts.

“We had a lot of 2019 test and development items on both cars in FP1 so that was a very busy session although we were still able to do a reasonable amount of the normal race preparation,” trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said.

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