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Grosjean fastest in first Abu Dhabi practice

Lotus driver Romain Grosjean set the pace at the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel
Friday, November 1, 2013

November 1st, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Romain Grosjean set the fastest time in the first practices session for this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, just under two tenths of a second faster than second-placed Lewis Hamilton. Last week's winner and new four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull.

Lap times from first practice generally don't mean much in terms of predicting race performance, but in Abu Dhabi they perhaps mean less than anywhere else. That is due to massive temperature differences between practice 1 and the race. Free Practice 1 and 3 are run in blazing sunshine in the middle of the day, when temperatures are very high. By contrast, Free Practice 2, qualifying and the race are all run in the evening, when temperatures have dropped significantly.

The lower air and track temperatures affect the handling of the cars, which provides quite a challenge for the engineers, as they have only Free Practice 2 to run in realistic race conditions and find a good setup for their cars.

In Free Practice 1, the top six places were taken up by Lotus, Mercedes and Red Bull. Red Bull have already wrapped up the Constructors' Championship, but second place is still up for grabs. Lotus and Mercedes are in the hunt for second place, as is Ferrari. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were not as compettive as their direct rivals in this session, but that is not necessarily a reflection of form for the rest of the weekend, for reasons of track and air temperature as outlined above.

Alonso was 12th fastest, while Massa was down in 17th place.

Many drivers comlained of a lack of grip during the FP1 session. Quite a few ran wide at various points on the track, but there were no spins and no crashes, the run-off areas at the Yas Marina Circuit doing their job well.

Three drivers sat out the session while their cars were driven by reserve drivers. At Force India, James Calado took over Adrian Sutil's car. Heikki Kovalainen drove Giedo van der Garde's Caterham. At Marussia, Max Chilton watched on as Rodolfo Gonzalez stepped into his Marussia for FP1. All three race drivers will be back in action for FP2 later today.

Free Practice starts at 17:00 local time in Abu Dhabi.

Full results from FP1:

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:44.241 21
2 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:44.433 0.192 23
3 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:44.499 0.258 18
4 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:44.712 0.471 20
5 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:44.741 0.500 24
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:44.929 0.688 23
7 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:45.040 0.799 20
8 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.099 0.858 20
9 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:45.150 0.909 24
10 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.331 1.090 20
11 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:45.378 1.137 23
12 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:45.440 1.199 18
13 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:45.823 1.582 22
14 15 James Calado Force India-Mercedes 1:45.924 1.683 20
15 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:46.068 1.827 18
16 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:46.114 1.873 22
17 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:46.124 1.883 18
18 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:46.126 1.885 21
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:47.600 3.359 22
20 21 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:47.670 3.429 22
21 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:47.723 3.482 23
22 23 Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia-Cosworth 1:49.565 5.324 22

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