It has been a good Friday, says Lewis Hamilton
World champion Lewis Hamilton set the pace ahead of Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel on the opening day of practice for tomorrow's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
World champion Lewis Hamilton set the pace ahead of Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel on the opening day of practice for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver lapped the Yas Marina circuit in a time of one minute one minute 37.877 seconds, set under the floodlights in the second of the day’s two sessions.
It was the fastest ever lap recorded at the 5.5-kilometer track and was enough to beat Vettel, who had topped the timesheets in the first afternoon session, by 0.149 seconds.
"It's been a good Friday," said Hamilton, racing with a helmet adorned with gold leaf this weekend, after the session.
"We have a bit of work to do, but I feel like we're quite competitive here. It's relatively close but I like that."
Hamilton has already won this year’s championship, the fourth of his career, clinching it two races ago in Mexico, while Mercedes have won the constructors’ crown.
And while there may only be pride and bragging rights at stake, tomorrow’s floodlit twilight spectacular could still turn out to be a thriller.
Practice results hinted at a three-way battle for the win, with Red Bull seemingly in the mix with Mercedes and Ferrari.
Max Verstappen was third in the opening session, just 0.148 seconds off Vettel’s best. Team mate Daniel Ricciardo displaced the 20-year-old in the evening to end the day third quickest with a lap just 0.303 seconds slower than Hamilton’s benchmark. Verstappen went sixth fastest in the second session.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth quickest in both sessions for Ferrari ahead of compatriot Valtteri Bottas, who was fifth in his Mercedes in the afternoon and evening.
Sergio Perez ended the day seventh ahead of team-mate Esteban Ocon, with their Force India squad once again looking strong.
Nico Hulkenberg was ninth in the Renault. Fernando Alonso ended the day tenth for McLaren, who are set to split with engine supplier Honda after this race and switch to Renault power next season.
Felipe Massa, who will bow out of Formula One after tomorrow’s race, was eleventh for Williams, going quicker than 19-year-old team-mate Lance Stroll, who ended the day 14th.
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