Formula 1

The Desert Duel Begins – Abu Dhabi FP1 and FP2

It’s the final race of the season and it was no surprise to see both championship contenders locking out the timesheet top spots, with Hamilton taking the first round in the battle by three tenths quicker than Rosberg.

Rosberg threw down the gauntlet early on in Free Practice 1 by setting a lap time of 1.43.873 with Hamilton setting a 1.44.133, however this was short-lived as Hamilton delivered a faster lap time 2 tenths faster with the ultra-soft tyres.

Hamilton switched onto the Soft tyres delivering a lap time of 1.42.869, three tenths quicker than his Mercedes team mate. Rosberg was unable to top the timesheets for the rest of the session with Hamilton finishing 0.374 seconds ahead of him when the chequered flag was out. The same was said for Free Practice 2 where an incorrect adjustment on Hamilton’s front wing seemed to give his Mercedes much better front grip, he finished 0.079 ahead of Rosberg. Round 2 to Hamilton.

On a weekend where we say goodbye to two gentlemen of the sport, 2 fresh faced drivers took to the track for the first session, Jordan King in Ocon’s Manor and Alfonso Celis in Hulkenberg’s Force India.

King delivered steady laps times but failed to make it very far up the timesheets, finishing the session in 21st with only Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso finishing below. Celis seemed quite at home in the Force India delivering a lap time of 1.45.476 to finish the session in 11th ahead of the Williams of Bottas, both Renaults and both Haas cars.

Daniil Kvyat possibly spent more time in his garage than he did on track in his Toro Rosso. During Free Practice 1, he had a puncture very early on in the lap and had to park the car in Sector 2. By the time the car was returned to the garage, the session was over and he didn’t return to the track. Free Practice 2 started better for the Russian and he managed to set some reasonable lap times before disaster struck again.

 

Another puncture sent the Toro Rosso pirouetting towards the armco barrier, coming to rest just shy of impact. This ended any further participation from both Toro Rosso cars whilst the team investigated the cause of the punctures, leaving them propping up the timing tables in P21 and P22. From initial inspections, it looked to be something fouling the rear hubs causing the rims to crack which lead to the punctures. Let’s hope they can resolve the issue overnight and deliver some good results in FP3 and Qualifying tomorrow.

On Thursday, Button confirmed, as many had suspected, this weekend would be his last race, but his race weekend did not get off to a great start. Heading out on track, he looked to be delivering a good flying lap time until he backed off into the last sector, finishing the lap 8 tenths slower than team mate Alonso. A radio call was delivered advising Jenson to head back to the pits slowly to park the car.

With the Mclaren parked in the garage for the rest of the session with a suspected ERS problem the team got to work on the car to fix the issue. Fast forward to Free Practice 2, a power unit change later, Button was back out on track sporting a set of ultra-soft tyres to set a lap time of 1.42.823 and slotted into P12 where he finished the session.

Grosjean didn’t have much luck in either session, as he struggled with the brakes on his Haas again. The initial signs of problems were when he suffered a massive lock up into turn one and was baffled as to what had happened. He promptly returned to the pits for his mechanics to work on the car and retired from the session. Hoping to spend more time on track in Free Practice 2, Grosjean headed out early in the session hoping to iron out any setup issues he was experiencing on the car. However, he spent most of the session complaining that he was struggling with the left hand corners of the track before finishing the session in P14.

Both Ferrari cars were fairly quiet throughout the Friday sessions, running all available tyre types on Raikkonen’s prancing horse. This was until Vettel was forced to park his under the now illuminated Yas Viceroy hotel after a gearbox failure with 10 minutes left of Free Practice 2 left to go. However, both Ferrari’s finished in the top 6, split by both Red Bull drivers and within a second of the Silver Arrows.

 

Going into Saturday, Hamilton holds all the cards by topping the tables, but can Rosberg keep close to him or will he fall prey to the 2 Red Bulls who certainly won’t shy away from a fight on race day. Tune in at 1pm on Saturday to see who can claim the final pole position of the season.

Abu Dhabi GP Free Practice One Results

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:42:869
  2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, +0.374
  3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, +0.428
  4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +0.493
  5. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +1.136
  6. Sergio Perez, Force India, +1.286
  7. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, +1.687
  8. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, +1.816
  9. Felipe Massa, Williams, +2.170
  10. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +2.299
  11. Alfonso Celis, Force India, +2.607
  12. Romain Grosjean, Haas, +2.731
  13. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, +2.909
  14. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, +3.056
  15. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, +3.071
  16. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, +3.350
  17. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, +3.502
  18. Fernando Alonso, Mclaren, +3.510
  19. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, +3.589
  20. Jenson Button, Mclaren, +4.258
  21. Jordan King, Manor, +4.689
  22. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, +19.120

Abu Dhabi GP Free Practice Two Results

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:40:861
  2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, +0.079
  3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +0.269
  4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, +0.528
  5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +0.529
  6. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, +0.603
  7. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, +1.098
  8. Sergio Perez, Force India, +1.180
  9. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, +1.403
  10. Felipe Massa, Williams, +1.407
  11. Fernando Alonso, Mclaren, +1.505
  12. Jenson Button, Mclaren, +1.962
  13. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, +2.151
  14. Romain Grosjean, Haas, +2.247
  15. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, +2.411
  16. Esteban Ocon, Manor, +2.739
  17. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, +2.893
  18. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, +3.042
  19. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +3.184
  20. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, +3.256
  21. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, +3.617
  22. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, +5.087

Feature Image Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas Press Release

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