Lewis Hamilton edges Nico Rosberg in Abu Dhabi practice
Lewis Hamilton drew first blood in his championship showdown with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, topping the timesheets ahead of the German at the end of the first day of practice for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday
British racer Lewis Hamilton drives during practice of the Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina Circuit yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi: Lewis Hamilton drew first blood in his championship showdown with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, topping the timesheets ahead of the German at the end of the first day of practice for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday.
The reigning world champion, who heads into Sunday's twilight race 12 points behind his former childhood friend, lapped the floodlit 5.5-kilometer long Yas Marina circuit in one minute 40.861 seconds.
Championship leader Rosberg, the odds on title favourite who won last year's Abu Dhabi race from pole, was hot on Hamilton's heel's though, ending the day just 0.079 seconds slower than the Briton.
Rosberg had also trailed Hamilton in the opening afternoon session, but by a wider 0.374-second margin. Sebastian Vettel, fifth-fastest in the afternoon, ended the day third.
But he brought out the yellow flags when his Ferrari ground to a halt with a suspected gearbox failure in the dying minutes of the 90-minute session.
Max Verstappen, third in the morning, dropped to fourth in the evening, leading Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo as he had in the opening session.
The two Red Bulls could play a part in Sunday's title decider if they split their Mercedes rivals.
Rosberg heads into Sunday's race closer than he has ever been to following in his 1982 world champion father Keke's footsteps.
All he needs to clinch a maiden championship crown is a third-place finish regardless of where Hamilton finishes.
The Briton, meanwhile, needs to finish in the top three if he is to have any chance of scoring a fourth title triumph.
Hamilton's title bid has been hobbled by poor reliability and the spectre of a potentially title deciding failure raised its head when he reported problems with his gearbox.
But his Mercedes team clarified the gearbox in his car was an old practice unit that was scheduled to be replaced without any penalty anyway.
Jenson Button ended his final day of Friday practice 12th. But it was a far from straightforward day for the Briton has he spent most of the opening session parked up in the garage due to problems with his McLaren.
Williams driver Felipe Massa, also heading into retirement, was ninth.
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