Max Verstappen put down a marker as he set the pace in first practice ahead of his title showdown with Lewis Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The pair are locked on 369.5 points heading into the season-ending race at the Yas Marina Circuit.
But it was the Red Bull of Verstappen which set the early bar at the altered track, posting a time of one minute 25.009 seconds to finish 0.346secs clear of Hamilton, who was third behind his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
The alterations around the Yas Marina circuit saw Verstappen run over 12 seconds faster than the quickest time in the corresponding session here last year.
Even as he complained of an issue with his steering wheel, Verstappen looked quick, albeit this session does not always show who has the true pace over the course of a race weekend.
Hamilton was certainly pushing, running wide and missing the apex at turn seven as he came in 0.150s adrift of Bottas, the Finn racing for Mercedes for the last time.
The Alpine of Fernando Alonso was sixth, sandwiched by the AlphaTauri pair of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly.
The Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were eighth and ninth, respectively, as Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin rounded out the top 10.