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2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Rd 18, Friday Practice Sessions, Nov 11th, TV Notes)

November 12, 2011

Yas Marina Circuit. © Creative Commons / Arz.

McLaren got the penultimate Grand Prix of the season off to a perfect start by topping the opening pair of sessions in Abu Dhabi.

Jenson Button claimed the morning honours ahead of Mark Webber (Red Bull), while Lewis Hamilton crept to the top of the afternoon standings.

Indeed, it was something of a busy morning at the Yas Marina circuit. Amidst a number of off-track excursions, Button set a quickest lap of 1:40.263, edging out Webber by just over a tenth, although the Australian may lay claim to having his quickest lap ruined by a waved yellow flag late on.

Hamilton made it two Mercedes-powered machines in the top three, just ahead of Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull).

The top two teams had a far more profitable morning than Ferrari, whose pair of starts – Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa – suffered several spins in snappy and poorly balanced machines.
Despite this, the red duo still claimed 5th and 6th, ahead of a pair of Force India’s (Adrian Sutil, 7th; Paul di Resta, 9th), while Nico Rosberg celebrated his new contract with Mercedes by setting the 8th best lap.
Jaime Alguersuari closed the top ten in his Toro Rosso, just two-tenths ahead of the team’s reserve driver, Jean-Eric Vergne.

Opening practice also saw two other reserve pilots hit the track. Both Romain Grosjean (Renault) and Robert Wickens (Virgin) took to the track, securing 12th and 23rd respectively.
Wicken’s Virgin teammate, Timo Glock, finished the session with half-second advantage over the Canadian, but did himself no favours with a spin as the chequered flag appeared.

It was a tough start for both Williams and Sauber. At the former squad, Pastor Maldonado lost a little time due to a cracked front wing, while Rubens Barrichello lost nearly the entire session after his engine failed spectacularly.
A drive train issue for Kamui Kobayashi made sure his Sauber had limited morning running.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1m40.263s           21
 2.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1m40.389s  + 0.126  26
 3.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes        1m40.403s  + 0.140  27
 4.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1m40.755s  + 0.492  27
 5.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1m40.801s  + 0.538  25
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1m41.260s  + 0.997  17
 7.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes    1m41.340s  + 1.077  23
 8.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1m42.130s  + 1.867  26
 9.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes    1m42.151s  + 1.888  28
10.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1m42.377s  + 2.114  26
11.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1m42.633s  + 2.370  26
12.  Romain Grosjean       Renault                 1m42.685s  + 2.422  29
13.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                 1m43.118s  + 2.855  13
14.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth       1m43.255s  + 2.992  29
15.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                1m43.389s  + 3.126  24
16.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari          1m44.412s  + 4.149  28
17.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari          1m44.484s  + 4.221  18
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault           1m44.565s  + 4.302  27
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault           1m44.898s  + 4.635  25
20.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth            1m46.385s  + 6.122  28
21.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth            1m46.532s  + 6.269  27
22.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth         1m48.024s  + 7.761  20
23.  Robert Wickens        Virgin-Cosworth         1m48.551s  + 8.288  23
24.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth                            3

Hamilton headed Button at the top end of the timing sheets in the second practice. The 2008 Champion clocked thirty-one laps of the Yas Marina track – one more than his champion teammate.

The McLaren pairing enjoyed a far quieter session than either Ferrari or Red Bull. Whereas Massa continued to suffer from balance difficulties, Alonso lost control of his Scuderia machine completely at the opening corner, hitting the soft barrier enough to damage his suspension.

Vettel suffered a similar incident only moments beforehand, although with far less damage. The Red Bull man also dropped his RB7 onto the gripless kerbs entering the first turn, sending his Adrian Newey designed machine spiralling toward the barrier for light contact.
Webber also suffered a soft spin under the hotel of flashing lights.

Schumacher headed a group of Mercedes-powered machinery in 7th. The veteran’s best was a clear four-tenths quicker than the Force India’s, led by Sutil; although rookie di Resta lost session time due to fuel line problems.
Rosberg ended the afternoon in 20th after running forty-one laps.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1m39.586s    	      31
 2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1m39.785s  + 0.199  30
 3.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1m39.971s  + 0.385  20
 4.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1m39.980s  + 0.394  34
 5.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1m40.104s  + 0.518  35
 6.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1m40.132s  + 0.546  26
 7.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1m40.553s  + 0.967  34
 8.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1m40.951s  + 1.365  34
 9.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1m41.021s  + 1.435  37
10.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1m41.490s  + 1.904  34
11.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1m41.565s  + 1.979  34
12.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m41.680s  + 2.094  33
13.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1m41.947s  + 2.361  31
14.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m41.983s  + 2.397  34
15.  Bruno Senna           Renault                1m42.369s  + 2.783  36
16.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1m42.798s  + 3.212  35
17.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1m42.910s  + 3.324  34
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault          1m43.562s  + 3.976  36
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault          1m44.050s  + 4.464  38
20.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1m44.265s  + 4.679  41
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1m45.486s  + 5.900  34
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1m46.142s  + 6.556  32
23.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth           1m46.249s  + 6.663  21
24.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth           1m46.328s  + 6.742  34
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