Abu Dhabi GP 2016

NOVEMBER 25, 2016

Practice 2 Report - Close enough

Lewis Hamilton, Abu Dhabi GP 2016
© Active Pictures


By Dan Knutson in Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap in Free Practice 2 for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. His Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg was second quickest, which would be close enough for him to clinch the championship if the race ends with the drivers in the same positions in the race.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Centigrade.)

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Force India Mercedes Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon. Haas Ferrari Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.

Hamilton was quickest in FP1 with a time of 1:42.869 which he set on the soft compound tires. Pirelli's super soft and ultra soft tires were also on tap.

Grosjean, Ocon and Gutierrez were the first on track. Grosjean set the first time a 1:45.724 using the soft tires.

"FP2 underway. This session should be a lot more meaningful than the one earlier, as conditions will be more similar to quali and race," Pirelli tweeted.

Then Vettel, on the softs, clocked a 1:43.337 to give the rest of the drivers something to shoot for. His teammate, on the super softs, shot that down with a 1:42.808.

Kvyat had a left rear flat tire early in FP1, and it happened again early in FP2 after he had a spin. "Guys, these punctures are ****ing me off," he radioed.

Bottas was the next to top the times with a time of 1:42.611, and then Vettel beat that with a 1:42.577. Raikkonen brought things down to a 1:42.257 using the super softs.

The order just before the 20 minute mark was Raikkonen, Bottas, Rosberg, Vettel, Verstappen and Ricciardo. Bottas had improved his time and was now just 0.001 of a second slower that Raikkonen. Rosberg had set his time of 1:42.294 using the soft compound, while the rest used the super soft Pirellis.

Hamilton, who had flat spots on his tires and a gearbox problem, was 21st.

The session was 27 minutes old when Vettel ran the ultra soft Pirellis and clocked a 1:41.404. He was the first driver to try the tires. He improved that to a 1:41.130.

Bottas used the ultras to turn a 1:41.959. Next Rosberg, on that compound, slammed in a 1:40.940. Verstappen's ultra run put him into third place with a 1:41.389.

Fifty minutes remained in FP2 when Hamilton, on the ultra soft tires, turned a 1:40.861, which was 0.079 of a second faster than Rosberg.

The order halfway through the session was: Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Bottas, Perez, Hulkenberg and Massa. Most of the drivers were in the pits now and preparing for their long run race simulations.

Once the long runs were underway, Button was the only driver yet to do a run on the ultra tires. When he finally did so, with just over 30 minutes remaining, he jumped from 22nd to 12th, just behind his teammate Alonso in 11th place.

It got busy out there, and everybody but Button and the two Toro Rosso drivers were on the track. The latter two were having the wheels checked on their cars after Kvyat's incidents.

With 10 minutes remaining, Vettel coasted to a stop at Turn 18 and called in that the gearbox had failed.

The top 12 remained the same. And that was close enough for Rosberg.