Rosberg edges closer in Abu Dhabi practice

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

Lewis Hamilton was again fastest in the second practice session at Abu Dhabi, but this time with much less of a margin. As Nico Rosberg narrowed the gap to 0.079s, so did Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel ending up at less than three tenths of Hamilton.

The Red Bull drivers positions themselves in fourth and fifth, a just one thousandth of a second separating the two. Kimi Raikkonen followed up in 6th, 3 tenths down on his own team mate.

Valtteri Bottas was again the fastest man for Williams, going 7th fastest with Massa 10th. Together, they sandwished the Force India duo and left both McLaren drivers behind as they were 11th and 12th fastest. For McLaren at least that was a solid improvement compared to the first session in which Jenson Button struggled with mechanical problems.

Even though Hamilton eventually emerged fastest on the ultra softs, it was Rosberg who set the early pace on Pirelli's soft compound tyres. Hamilton struggled and repeatedly locked up his wheels to create flat spots. It worried the Brit to the extent that he asked his team if there was anything wrong with the car. His engineer answered firmly that things were ok.

It was only when everybody started to switch to the ultrasofts for some qualifying preparation that Hamilton took the upper hand. Vettel was the first do set a competitive time on the softest tyre available, until Rosberg and then Hamilton improved.

Sebastian Vettel will likely be happy with his performance to take third, but a bit less so with the end of his session. The German Ferrari driver rolled to a halt and reported he suspected a gearbox failure. He risks taking a 5-place grid penalty if the team would deem it necessary to replace the gearbox.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:40.861-36
26Nico RosbergMercedes AMG1:40.940+0.079s38
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1:41.130+0.269s31
433Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:41.389+0.528s24
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:41.390+0.529s33
67Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:41.464+0.603s34
777Valtteri BottasWilliams Mercedes1:41.959+1.098s35
811Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:42.041+1.180s35
927Nico HulkenbergForce India Mercedes1:42.264+1.403s36
1019Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:42.268+1.407s36
1114Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda1:42.366+1.505s33
1222Jenson ButtonMcLaren Honda1:42.823+1.962s24
1321Esteban GutierrezHaas Ferrari1:43.012+2.151s35
148Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:43.108+2.247s17
1530Jolyon PalmerRenault1:43.272+2.411s33
1631Esteban OconMRT Mercedes1:43.600+2.739s35
1794Pascal WehrleinMRT Mercedes1:43.754+2.893s33
1812Felipe NasrSauber Ferrari1:43.903+3.042s36
199Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:44.045+3.184s34
2020Kevin MagnussenRenault1:44.117+3.256s25
2155Carlos SainzToro Rosso Ferrari1:44.478+3.617s5
2226Daniil KvyatToro Rosso Ferrari1:45.948+5.087s4