McLaren topped both practice sessions at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina, as Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton shared the honours at the Emirati circuit.
Button jumped to the top in the first practice, which saw McLaren narrowly miss out on a one-two as Red Bull’s Mark Webber pumped in a late lap to split to British team’s cars. The Aussie was a little over a tenth shy of Button with Hamilton just o.014 further back.
Sebastian Vettel was briefly confused by the fact that the number appearing on his dash was not a straight vertical line, but rather a strange series of short lines. They represented a “4” rather than the “1” he is more used to seeing (and displaying with that god-awful finger).
The Ferraris of Alonso and Massa were next on the timesheets, ending up P5 and P6 respectively, with Adrian Sutil, Nico Rosberg, Paul di Resta and Jaime Alguersuari completing the top-ten.
A pair of Frenchmen enjoyed solid FP1 runs, with Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) and Renault returnee Romain Grosjean performing well in place of Sebastien Buemi and Bruno Senna respectively. Both remain in the hunt for race seats for 2012.
One man unlikely to find a drive, though not through lack of talent, is Virgin reserve Robert Wickens. The Canadian stood in for Jerome d’Ambrosio in morning pracice and was half a second shy of Timo Glock – very impressive. Shame he doesn’t have the cash to challenge Charles Pic for that seat. The Russian team – oh yes, we did say it – ended the session slowest of the lot, behind HRT boys Ricciardo and Liuzzi.
The second session saw Hamilton on top, whilst Vettel was having a rare drama.
The Red Bull star endured a more trouble than usual in the session thanks to a spin in to the wall at Turn One, damaging his car. The feat was soon repeated by fellow double champ Fernando Alonso. Now, if we were being lazy we’d just dub it the wall of double champions, but we’re sure we can come up with something better than that. We’d stake our reputation on it.
Wih both Alonso and Vettel hitting the wall of double champions (there, we did it), and with most other cars on long-runs, Lewis Hamilton was unchallenged at the top of the timesheets. He ended up fastest on a 1:39.586, 0.199s faster than team-mate Button and a little over four tenths clear of the Ferraris of Alonso and Felipe Massa. Mark Webber was P5, ahead of VetteL.
Michael Schumacher was seventh for Mercedes, with Sutil, di Resta and Kamui Kobayahsi rounding out the 10 fastest cars. Meanwhile at the wrong end of the grid a late lap from Jerome d’Ambrosio hauled the Belgian ahead of the two HRTs, saving his Marussia squad the embarassment of ending up slowest again.