NO STOPPING HAMILTON: Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton set another fastest time during the second practice for the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP on Friday (Nov 21). Image: AP/ Andre Penner
ABU DHABI, UAE - Lewis Hamilton claimed an early advantage over Mercedes team mate and title rival Nico Rosberg on Friday (Nov 21 2014) with the fastest lap in practice for Formula One's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Briton, chasing his second title, was quickest in the afternoon and after-dark floodlit sessions at the glittering Yas Marina circuit that hosts Sunday's decisive 'duel in the desert'.
The bragging rights were limited, however, by the slender margin between the two with Hamilton 0.133 faster in the first session and a mere 0.083 in the cooler evening conditions.
He produced his best lap of 1min42.113 after nightfall.
Hamilton said: "I've just got to drive the way I usually do and what will be will be. I feel good in the car. Undoubtedly, there is more time to find so I've got to go and chip away at it tonight."
The other drivers waged a familiar battle to be best of the also-rans, but with an even greater gap than usual.
Fernando Alonso, preparing for his last race with Ferrari, was third quickest in the opening session but a massive 1.7 seconds off Hamilton's pace.
Hamilton leads Rosberg by 17 points but, with double on offer for the first time, the spectre of mechanical failure hangs over Sunday's race. The 2008 champion need only finish second, however, to be champion even if Rosberg wins.
Mercedes is also on course for a record 16 wins in a season, having already notched up an unprecedented 11 1-2s.
McLaren's Kevin Magnussen filled third spot in the second session, when Alonso stopped on track without setting a time, but was still 0.782 off the pace
Sebastian Vette was fourth fastest in both sessions as he geared up for a farewell to Red Bull before replacing Alonso at Ferrari.
Britain's Jenson Button, maybe facing his last race in F1, improved to eighth for McLaren after a troubled first session.
Mercedes-powered Williams, who stopped their cars in the first session after they shed bodywork on track, had a normal second stint with Finland's Valtteri Botttas fifth.2nd Free Practice session from the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit
1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min42.113
2. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min42.196
3. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) McLaren 1min42.895
4. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull - Renault 1min42.959
5. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 1min43.070
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) RedBull - Renault 1min43.183
7. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1min43.489
8. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min43.503
9. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min43.546
10. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 1min43.558
11. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India - Mercedes 1min43.746
12. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus - Renault 1min44.005
13. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India - Mercedes 1min44.068
14. Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min44.157
15. Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber - Ferrari 1min44.316
16. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Sauber - Ferrari 1min44.763
17. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus - Renault 1min44.986
18. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Caterham - Renault 1min45.505
19. Will Stevens (Britain) Caterham - Renault 1min47.057
20. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari