Lewis Hamilton has topped both Friday practice sessions in preparation for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race of the 2014 Formula One world championship that will see either Lewis or team-mate Nico Rosberg crowned champion. Rosberg ended both sessions in second place and was always within 2 tenths of his team-mate.
The Mercedes pair began their championship deciding weekend as the only drivers in the 1 minute 43 second region. Everyone else was in the 1:45 region. Lewis Hamilton was a tenth quicker than Rosberg at the top of the times after the pair had traded fastest laps throughout the session. Fernando Alonso was 3rd fastest but was a staggering 1.7 seconds slower than Lewis.
Sebastian Vettel was 4th fastest, just behind the man that he will replace next year at Ferrari. The outgoing champion was 1.8 seconds off of the Mercedes cars as he complained about dodgy down-shifts in his Red Bull. Team-mate and lead driver at Red Bull for next season Daniel Ricciardo was 5th; just 3 hundredths slower than Sebastian. Red Bull sponsored cars continued to occupy positions in the top 10, with the Toro Rosso pair in 6th and 7th place. Jean-Eric Vergne, who remains in the dark as to whether he will be with the team next year, led Daniil Kvyat by a tenth of a second.
In what appears to have been an ongoing trend this season, neither Williams looked very competitive in the first session. Valtteri Bottas was 8th fastest with Felipe Massa down in 13th. Both cars suffered a near-identical bodywork failure as their side-pod panels made a bid for freedom.
3 drivers made their first Grand Prix weekend appearance including Will Stevens. The British driver will carry on driving for the rest of the weekend as he partners Kamui Kobayashi at Caterham, who return to the track since going into administration prior to the United States Grand Prix. Marcus Ericsson broke off all ties to the team after signing for Sauber for next year, leaving the door open for Stevens. He ended the session slowest as he got to grips with the car.
The other 2 drivers only drove for the first session. Formula 3 driver Esteban Ocon made his GP weekend debut at the wheel of Romain Grosjean’s Lotus. He ended the session in 16th; just 3 tenths slower than Pastor Maldonado in the sister car. Adderly Fong was the final substitution as he took the wheel of Adrian Sutil’s Sauber. He finished the session in 19th.
Practice 1 results:
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’45.334||1.858||30|
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||1’45.361||1.885||23|
|6||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’45.718||2.242||17|
|7||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’45.835||2.359||32|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1’45.983||2.507||23|
|10||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1’46.030||2.554||24|
The two Mercedes drivers maintained position in the second 90-minute practice session, but the gap between them had decreased. Hamilton topped the session but was just 8 hundredths of a second faster than Rosberg. The gap between the Mercedes drivers and the rest of the field had also decreased by a second, with Kevin Magnussen just 7 tenths slower than Hamilton. Kevin, along with team-mate Jenson, are still fighting for their McLaren seats as Fernando Alonso seems certain to replace one of them.
Sebastian Vettel stayed in 4th place but was now just ahead of Valtteri Bottas whose pace had improved now that all the parts of his car stayed in place. Daniel Ricciardo was 6th ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button. The British driver had a disappointing day after being affected by mechanical problems in both sessions. Daniil Kvyat and Felipe Massa completed the top 10.
Will Stevens continued his learning curve in the Caterham in preparation for his Grand Prix debut on Sunday. He ended the day 1.5 seconds slower than Kobayashi but later admitted on the radio that he had made mistakes on his fastest lap.
Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari came to a halt in FP2 for the second race in a row. It had been an engine problem in Brazil, but now it was an electrical problems as he ground to a stop under the Yas hotel. The Spaniard was unable to set a lap time in his final Friday as a Ferrari driver.
Practice 2 results:
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’42.959||0.846||33|
|6||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||1’43.183||1.070||31|
|9||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’43.546||1.433||38|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1’43.746||1.633||36|
|13||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1’44.068||1.955||32|
|14||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’44.157||2.044||38|
|20||14||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||No time||2|