Lewis Hamilton was fastest in today’s second free practice session in the McLaren to add an interesting twist to the championship finale.
Hamilton looked quick all day in the McLaren, which has an updated F Duct rear wing this weekend. However he also courted controversy and was called to the stewards for cutting across the front of Bruno Senna and going across the while pit lane entry line. They let him off with a reprimand.
Hamilton believes that after several races where he didn’t have the car to challenge the Red Bulls and Ferraris, he can get in amongst them, “I don’t think I’m fighting for fourth this weekend,” he said with a smile.
The Red Bulls looked like they were sliding on the harder of the Bridgestone tyres. When Vettel went onto the soft tyre later in the session the car looked like it had more bite. But in today’s running Hamilton’s McLaren seemed to have the edge in the final sector of the lap, which features a lot of low speed, off camber corners.
Today’s performance is not necessarily conclusive proof that McLaren will be spoiling the party for Red Bull and Ferrari in qualifying tomorrow; McLaren have been quick on Fridays before then come up short on Saturday in qualifying.
But it would be very interesting of he bumped one of Vettel Webber or Alonso out of the top three on the grid. That would make for a very interesting race on Sunday.
Fernando Alonso, who starts the weekend with an eight point advantage over Mark Webber, complained of oversteer in the low speed corners.
His team mate Felipe Massa stopped out on the track the end of the second session when he ran out of fuel. He radioed this message to the team, which was broadcast to the other teams. It is interesting that he should have been running with low enough fuel levels to run out at that stage of practice.
ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX, Friday practice
1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m40.888s
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m41.145s + 0.257s
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m41.314s + 0.426s
4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m41.315s + 0.427s
5. Robert Kubica Renault 1m41.576s + 0.688s
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m41.583s + 0.695s
7. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m42.096s + 1.208s
8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m42.132s + 1.244s
9. Tonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1m42.203s + 1.315s
10. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m42.222s + 1.334s
11. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m42.246s + 1.358s
12. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1m42.449s + 1.561s
13. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m42.535s + 1.647s
14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.768s + 1.880s
15. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m42.914s + 2.026s
16. Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.950s + 2.062s
17. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m43.128s + 2.240s
18. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m43.584s + 2.696s
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1m45.180s + 4.292s
20. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m45.259s + 4.371s
21. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1m45.612s + 4.724s
22. Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1m46.053s + 5.165s
23. Christian Klien Hispania-Cosworth 1m47.210s + 6.322s
24. Bruno Senna Hispania-Cosworth 1m47.434s + 6.546s