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FIA F1 - Friday Practice Reports Abu Dhabi

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Practice One - Hamilton heads McLaren one-two in Abu Dhabi

McLaren got their Abu Dhabi campaign off to a dramatic start with the two fastest times on Friday, as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button dominated Practice One.

Hamilton began setting the pace from the moment he took to the track halfway through and never let up as he trimmed his times to 1m 43.285s. For a long time nobody broke the 1m 44s barrier, but near the end Button cut his times and eventually lapped just 0.333s slower in 1m 43.618s.

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were left a little breathless with 1m 44.050s and 1m 44. 542s in their hitherto dominant Red Bulls, but they were split right at the end when Vettel’s arch-rival Fernando Alonso took his Ferrari round in 1m 44.366s.

Michael Schumacher was up there for Mercedes with 1m 44.694s, before a gap to Williams’ Pastor Maldonaldo. The Venezuelan was exactly matched by team reserve Valtteri Bottas with 1m 45.347s apiece, until the former just improved to 1m 45.115s at the end.

Nico Rosberg posted 1m 45.194s in the second Mercedes, leaving Bottas a solid ninth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen on 1m 45.422s in the leading Lotus. Felipe Massa followed with 1m 45.567s for Ferrari, ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg on 1m 45.587s, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi on 1m 45.722s, Romain Grosjean on 1m 45.743s in the second Lotus, Jules Bianchi, standing in for Paul di Resta in the second Force India on 1m 45.769s, and Sergio Perez in the second Sauber on 1m 45.811s.

The Toro Rosso were off that pace, with Daniel Ricciardo on 1m 46.649s from Jean-Eric Vergne on 1m 46.708s, then Heikki Kovalainen flew the Caterham flag alone with 1m 47.718s after morning team mate Giedo van der Garde never got a timed run thanks to engine problems.

Timo Glock was on Kovalainen’s tail with 1m 47.891s for Marussia, as Pedro de la Rosa took 22nd for HRT with 1m 48.354s. Max Chilton’s first Friday run for Marussia yielded a solid 1m 48.887s, while Ma Qing Hua’s return to the second HRT, in place of Narain Karthikeyan, was good for 1m 50.487s.

Practice Two - Vettel edges Hamilton at Yas Marina

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel rose to the top of the pile as dusk fell in Abu Dhabi on Friday afternoon, but the world champion ended FP2 only 0.168s ahead of FP1 pacesetter Lewis Hamilton for McLaren.

Vettel and Hamilton battled for the fastest time for the first hour, after which the times failed to improve as the ambient and track temperatures dropped. The German eventually won the fight with 1m 41.751s, but Hamilton then worked down to 1m 41.919s to keep him honest. Jenson Button was third in the other McLaren with 1m 42.412s, fractionally ahead of Mark Webber in the second Red Bull on 1m 42.466s.

Romain Grosjean put Lotus into play with 1m 42.500s, backed by team mate Kimi Raikkonen on 12m 42.532s. Right behind them, Fernando Alonso managed 1m 42.587s for Ferrari, with his team mate Felipe Massa on 1m 42.823s. Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10 for Williams and Sauber with 1m 42.998s and 1m 43.106s respectively.

Williams' Bruno Senna backed Maldonado with 1m 43.191s despite missing FP1, then came Nico Rosberg in the leading Mercedes on 1m 43.200s, Nico Hulkenberg in the first Force India on 1m 43.255s, Michael Schumacher on 1m 43.267s in the other Mercedes, Force India's Paul di Resta on 1m 43.578s and Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi in 1m 43.689s.

Again the Toro Rossos were just out of the midfield club, with Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne in their customary 17th and 18th places on 1m 44.260s and 1m 45.005s.

Vitaly Petrov had a spin on his way to 19th with 1m 45.245s, with Caterham team mate Heikki Kovalainen next on 1m 45.782s. Timo Glock lapped his Marussia in 1m 46.589s to edge out Charles Pic on 1m 46.671s and Pedro de la Rosa on 1m 46.707s for HRT. Team mate Narain Karthikeyan also spun, and brought up the rear on 1m 47.406s.