x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Hamilton on top as Vettel and Alonso slip up

McLaren-Mercedes driver fastest, ahead of teammate Button in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Jenson Button of McLaren was quickest during the first practice session at Yas Marina circuit today. Mark Thompson / Getty Images
Jenson Button of McLaren was quickest during the first practice session at Yas Marina circuit today. Mark Thompson / Getty Images


ABU DHABI // Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso both crashed during second practice for the Etihad Airways Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as McLaren-Mercedes' ominous pace suggested they will be favourites for pole position in tomorrow's qualifying session.

Vettel, who has already retained his world title before arriving at Yas Marina Circuit, slid wide at Turn 1 54 minutes into the session, with his Red Bull Racing car sliding across the run-off area and into the barriers. Fifteen minutes later, Alonso, the twice world champion, spun around as he exited the same corner and he careered backwards into the barrier, damaging the rear of his Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton, who took pole position in the 2009 race at the track, emphasised his desire to repeat that feat as he was fastest with a time of 1min 39.586secs. His McLaren teammate Jenson Button, who had been quickest in first practice, was 0.199secs off Hamilton's pace in second. Alonso and his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa were third and fourth, ahead of the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Vettel. Michael Schumacher was seventh quickest, but he set the fastest middle sector time of the day.

That section includes the two long straights, and confirmed that the Mercedes-GP, with its renown strong straightline speed, will be a factor in the race.


ABU DHABI // Jenson Button topped the times in a busy first practice session for Sunday's Etihad Airways Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The 2009 world champion set a quickest time of 1min 40.466secs in his McLaren-Mercedes during the 90-minute session at the Yas Marina Circuit.

As has been the story of the season it was the Red Bull Racing and McLaren cars who were the class of the field.

Button finished just 0.126secs ahead of Mark Webber's Red Bull, with Lewis Hamilton, Button's teammate, third.

Sebastian Vettel, who has already retained his drivers' world title, was fourth quickest, almost half-a-second off Button.

It was an interesting session for Ferrari as both drivers had spins. Felipe Massa lost his car under braking for Turn 1 as he touched the kerb, while Fernando Alonso was left facing the wrong way at Turn 6 as the back end of his car stepped out on him.

Both drivers were able to rejoin the track after their incidents, although Alonso twice had to run wide at Turn 9 as the double world champion struggled to find the limits of the track on his way to being fifth quickest.

A number of drivers ran wide as dust made grip levels tricky.

Rubens Barrichello's Williams suffered a fall in oil pressure and slowed on track on his first attempt at setting a competitive lap time, and the Brazilian was forced to stop on track at Turn 11 and sit out the rest of the session.

The second practice session begins at 5pm.