Max Verstappen set the pace during the opening practice session for Formula 1’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as world champion Lewis Hamilton returned to action for Mercedes.

Red Bull’s Verstappen posted a 1m37.378s to edge out Valtteri Bottas by just 0.034s to lead the way in the first 90-minute practice session on Friday at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton made his return to the cockpit of his title-winning W11 after recovering from contracting coronavirus, which ruled him out of last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix.

The Briton was only fifth fastest behind Renault’s Esteban Ocon and Alex Albon as he ended up 1.366s off the pace, though Hamilton did not complete a lap on the Soft tyres after a brake issue restricted his running in FP1.

Lance Stroll headed Racing Point teammate and newly-crowned F1 race-winner Sergio Perez in sixth, with the two AlphaTauri’s of Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly next up in eighth and ninth, while Kimi Raikkonen completed the top 10 for Alfa Romeo.

Following his impressive debut for Mercedes last weekend, George Russell returned to his usual seat at Williams and was 16th-fastest, over half a second clear of teammate Nicholas Latifi.

Mick Schumacher, the son of seven-time world champion Michael, finished 18th on his F1 practice debut for Haas ahead of his graduation to the championship following his title-winning Formula 2 campaign this year.

The German was faster than the second Haas driven by Pietro Fittipaldi, who continues to deputise for the injured Romain Grosjean after making his F1 debut with the American team at the Sakhir GP.

Daniel Ricciardo failed to set a time and was restricted to just two laps of running after his Renault conked out on the back straight with a fuel-pressure problem in what is his final race weekend with the Enstone squad.