Vettel moves ahead as sun sets on Abu Dhabi
2 November 2012 – Sebastian Vettel has topped the second practice session ahead of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, leading Lewis Hamilton on Friday evening by less than two tenths of a second. Jenson Button and Mark Webber completed the top four, although the latter suffered technical problems. Title contender Fernando Alonso was seventh for Ferrari.
With only three race weekends to run before the destiny of the 2012 Formula 1 season is decided, Friday began with a McLaren one-two. This evening, Vettel snatched back the top spot which has been the German’s for the past four events. His best effort came in the shape of 1:41.751 as the cooler conditions allowed the 24 engines to yield more power.
As the floodlights were illuminated for the first time, a tail wind into Turns 8 and 9 caused an added challenge in the braking zone. The Sauber duo were the first out before Vettel’s Red Bull set a string of fastest laps early doors; on the Soft compound tyre later on in the session, he retained the leading position. Team-mate Webber was seven tenths of a second down and lost the final ten minutes because of a KERS problem.
Behind the Red Bull-McLaren lockout which made up the top four, Lotus were best of the rest. Romain Grosjean was fifth as Kimi Räikkönen recovered from an earlier puncture and late running with the yellow-marked Soft compound. At Mercedes, Michael Schumacher was left to ponder his second unintentional blocking moment of the day; in the first session, Timo Glock had been annoyed, whereas Sergio Pérez had to take evasive action on this occasion.
At McLaren, fastest man Hamilton was a more than comfortable half-second up on Button, having elected to remain on-track early instead of pitting when the team had asked him too; the decision – respected by the mechanics – turned out to be correct, as the 2008 Champion improved his position at the time.
Further back, Ferrari ran new front wings and several other new components which the team had worked on from early this morning. Although fuel loads are strictly confidential, the fact that Alonso is eight tenths of a second down on Vettel is likely to induce some worry in the Ferrari garage. Further down the order, Vitaly Petrov was the only man to suffer a spin during the day; despite the hiccup, the Russian still finished 19th and ahead of Caterham team-mate Heikki Kovalainen.
Running in this evening’s 90-minute practice phase was particularly critical, as the session took place at the same time of day that qualifying will be staged on Saturday.
Third and final practice starts at 2pm local time (GMT +4) on Saturday and can also be followed through the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report