The man who, by his own admission, needs a miracle to win the 2010 world championship might not be out of it just yet. Lewis Hamilton, who enters Sunday’s all-or-nothing race with the odds stacked against him in the title battle, has topped Friday running at the Yas Marina circuit.

Credit: McLaren Media

Sebastian Vettel topped FP1 with a quickest lap of 1m42.760s, over half a second quicker than second place Hamilton, as he continued to display stunning pace in for the new constructors world champions.

The track was damp as the session began, a rain shower having taken the desert-dwelling F1 folk by surprise. There was little early running, but when cars did start producing quick laps Red Bull were immediately on the pace, with Vettel’s P1 backed up by Mark Webber recording the fourth fastest lap.

McLaren were also impressive, with Hamilton second and team-mate Jenson Button third. Robert Kubica was – as has often been the case this year – the only driver to get amongst the regular front-runners. Fernando Alonso was sixth, but appeared calm in the Ferrari garages.

As the sun set on Yas Marina the second session got underway, and it saw cars lapping close to two-seconds a lap quicker than in the earlier run. Alonso’s Ferrari was fastest in the early stages but Hamilton overhauled his old foe as the drivers switched to soft tyres. The McLaren man’s time of 1m40.888s would not be beaten for the remainder of the session.

Vettel meanwhile had been second to Alonso during early running, but leapfrogged the Ferrari to finish second fastest. Alonso ended up third, ahead of Webber, meaning the title contenders locked-out the top four positions. Kubica once again posted the fifth quickest time ahead of Felipe Massa – who stopped on track with apparent fuel problems – Vitaly Petrov and Jenson Button.

So is Hamilton’s pace for real, or will we return to the traditional Red Bull domination in tomorrow’s oh-so-crucial qualifying session?

We’ll find that out tomorrow, but for now we’ll leave you with the thoughts of Karun Chandhok, who was in the commentary box for FP2: “The McLarens are looking really good for a race win, more so than most people expected. A Hamilton victory puts Fernando Alonso in prime position for the championship.”

If it’s possible things look even more interesting now than they did before practice got underway.