November 2 (EFE). - For a change, it was not Vettel nor a Red Bull car which led the times in a racing session, as Lewis Hamilton was fastest than everyone else during the first practice session today Friday at Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton’s fastest lap of 1:43.285 was hard to match, and his teammate Button could get only 0.333 on his final run, having previously suffered with rear wheel locking. At the end, McLaren dominated the session at the Yas Marina circuit with very competitive times.
The championship Sebastian Vettel clocked third best (1:44.050) while testing a couple of front wings, just ahead of his immediate hunter Fernando Alonso (1:44.366) his main rival in the fight for the title.
The Spaniard brought a new front wing design in an effort to enhance his F2012 performance for the following three races. Ferrari worked hard on a selection of new car parts, which included the aforementioned front wing. The team is not desperate but rather eager, so much that the mechanics broke the curfew by arriving at the circuit earlier than allowed this morning (curfew can be broken legally four times per season).
A little further back, Pastor Maldonado progressed to seventh place, having previously held an identical lap time to teammate Bottas who keeps impressing everyone (Senna will have a tough time in the off season). Kimi Räikkönen was the slowest of the two Finns in the session, as the Lotus driver was halted by a puncture.
More than 35 minutes had elapsed when most of the drivers took to the track, surface temperatures having exceeded 45 degrees Celsius by that point. Michael Schumacher was the first man to set a fully valuable time with 45 minutes in the session.
At Sauber, there was a hair-raising moment when McLaren-bound Sergio Pérez narrowly avoided the pit wall while attempting a high-speed pit entry sliding wide and was forced to drive over the run-off area and back onto the race track to avoid contact with the barrier.
Heikki Kovalainen was the only one of the Caterham drivers to set a time as Giedo van der Garde spent the session in the garage as his team tried to rectify an engine installation issue.
Classification of the first free practice of the GP of Abu Dhabi:
|3||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing||1:44.050||0.765||23|
|5||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1:44.542||1.257||22|
|12||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:45.587||2.302||20|
|15||11||Jules Bianchi||Force India||1:45.769||2.484||22|
|17||16||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||1:46.649||3.364||24|
|18||17||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:46.708||3.423||26|
|21||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT||1:48.354||5.069||22|
|23||23||Qing Hua Ma||HRT||1:50.487||7.202||20|
|24||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham||No time||3|