Sebastian Vettel conceded he was caught out by his crash during opening practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday afternoon in Abu Dhabi, calling it “a bit of a surprise”.

Vettel lost the rear of his car coming through Turn 19 in the final sector at the Yas Marina Circuit towards the end of FP1, spinning rearwards into the barrier.

The shunt resulted in a precautionary gearbox change for Vettel ahead of second practice, as well as costing the German some track time at the start of the session.

“It was a bit of a surprise, I didn’t expect to actually spin,” Vettel said following FP2 on Friday.

“I knew that going in I would have to catch the rear, it didn’t quite work, so it was a bit unfortunate.

“But there was no damage other than the rim, so I got lucky.”

Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc suffered a similar incident during FP2, clipping the wall after getting out of shape while on a qualifying simulation lap on the Soft tyre.

Leclerc was able to get away without any major damage, only losing that set of tyres upon returning to the pits before heading back out on fresh rubber.

“The whole third sector is pretty difficult because it’s overheating in the rear, but especially this corner,” Leclerc said.

“As soon as you go a bit too wide, you lose a bit of grip, and I’ve been surprised by that.”

Leclerc and Vettel finished the day P3 and P4 respectively behind the two Mercedes drivers, with Leclerc saying there was work for Ferrari to do heading into Saturday’s running.

“The day started actually pretty badly for us. It was one of the hardest sessions of the year in terms of balance and overall quite a messy session,” Leclerc said.

“But we worked very well between the sessions, and we gained quite a lot of performance for FP2. FP2 was pretty positive, apart from the race pace on the Softs, where I think we can do better and we need to work quite a bit on that.

“But on the Hard, the race pace was very strong, so that is a good thing.”

 

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