Friday proved to be a day for the championship underdogs in Abu Dhabi.
Not only did Lewis Hamilton top both Formula 1 practice sessions ahead of Nico Rosberg, but the trailing drivers in GP2 and GP3 took pole position for their respective series to shake up the title race.
In GP2, Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly entered the Abu Dhabi weekend trailing Prema Racing teammate Antonio Giovinazzi by seven points in the drivers’ standings.
However, the gap was reduced to just three after a stunning lap of 1:47.476 was enough to give Gasly pole position and the four bonus points on offer in qualifying.
Giovinazzi was unable to respond, finishing eight-tenths of a second adrift in sixth place, putting him on the back foot heading into Saturday’s feature race at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The GP3 qualifying session offered a similar narrative as the trailing Alexander Albon captured pole position, while title favorite Charles Leclerc lagged behind.
ART racer Albon took pole by over two-tenths of a second on Friday, picking up the four bonus points on offer to whittle Leclerc’s lead down to just 25 heading into the opening race of the weekend.
The opening GP2 and GP3 races of the weekend will take place on Saturday following F1 qualifying, with their season finales preceding the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.