Lewis Hamilton takes free two practice ahead of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
By: S.H. Harding, Xiro Xone News November 26, 2016 Updated: 11:31 PM
Sunday’s Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finds Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg set for another close battle with just 0.079s between them, at the end of the second practice session on Friday.
“Generally very smooth with no real issues. The first run in FP2 wasn’t ideal as there was so much traffic and I didn’t get to do a flying lap. But after that I managed to get a decent time in. Not perfect, as I was still feeling where the car was, but good enough. We got a lot of work done both on the short and long runs. I’m really happy with the car and we’re in a good position for tomorrow. Pole is the goal for tomorrow,” said Hamilton.
A top-three finish would give Rosberg the necessary points to secure the Formula One World Championship title, while Hamilton must win.
“Straight away the car started off with a balance that was in the right area. It’s always interesting going from hot conditions to cooler ones between the afternoon and evening sessions. Adapting to that and knowing what to expect can be a challenge but our car was working well in both conditions, on low and high fuel,” said Rosberg.
Fans hope drivers from rival teams can get in the mix and split the two Mercedes, on Sunday. This would make for some exciting open wheel racing under the evening lights in beautiful Abu Dhabi.
One of the possible threats could be from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who finished third and was just 0.269s off Hamilton. However, Vettel suffered a gearbox failure towards the end of the practice session, and will not result in a penalty ahead of Saturday qualifying.
“I am fairly happy with the day. Obviously, it is not ideal to have a gearbox issue on Friday, but I am not worried and it shouldn’t have any impact on the weekend. In general it was a very good Friday,” said Vettel.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo ended their day fourth and fifth, with Verstappen just 0.001s ahead of his teammate.
“We had a few issues with the car today which meant aborting the last run was the sensible thing to do so we can check the car and make sure we are ready to go in the morning. Nothing is broken and there is nothing to worry about, just safe to stop early,” said Verstappen.
Red Bull has been Mercedes' closest rival when it comes to qualifying and a force to be reckoned with, out on the track on race day.
Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth following a small mistake on his flying lap, and Valtteri Bottas grabbed seventh for Williams ahead of both Force Indias, and his teammate Felipe Massa.
McLaren-Honda finished the session 11th and 12th, with Fernando Alonso 0.457s ahead of teammate, Jenson Button.
Haas F1 drivers followed with Esteban Gutierrez 0.096s ahead of teammate Romain Grosjean, while Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was 15th ahead of the Manors of Esteban Ocon in 16th and Pascal Wehrlein in 17th.
The Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr took 18th and 19th respectively, while Kevin Magnussen finished his day out in 20th for Renault.
Toro Rosso was forced to abandon the session when Daniil Kvyat suffered another puncture after one occurred in the first session earlier in the day.