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Abu Dhabi GP FP2: Hamilton eclipses track record as sun sets on Friday running

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Abu Dhabi GP FP2: Hamilton eclipses track record as sun sets on Friday running
Nov 24, 2017, 4:21 PM

Lewis Hamilton set a new track record laptime in the second free practice session for Formula 1’s season finale at Abu Dhabi, posting a 1m37.

Lewis Hamilton set a new track record laptime in the second free practice session for Formula 1’s season finale at Abu Dhabi, posting a 1m37.877s lap to go fastest.

As the sun set over the Yas Marina circuit, the track temperatures had dropped by over 10°c compared to the first free practice session, but Hamilton nonetheless bettered Sebastian Vettel’s benchmark from FP1 by 1.129s, both on ultra-soft tyres.

Hamilton had previously set the earlier benchmark on the initial super-soft runs, managing a best run of 1m38.912, but beat that by over a second at the beginning of his runs on the softest compound.

Vettel was second fastest having set a best lap just 0.149s behind Hamilton, reversing the order from the first session, while Daniel Ricciardo completed the top three.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest to beat compatriot Valtteri Bottas by just under two-tenths, while Max Verstappen completed the top six.

Compared to Red Bull Racing team-mate Ricciardo, Verstappen appeared to have a number of struggles with setup throughout the evening session, running wide towards the end of his final long runs.

“He’s not quite as happy on setup as Daniel is today,” team principal Christian Horner told Channel 4,  “so they’ve got a few bits and pieces to look at – the variances between the two cars – overnight, and I’m sure it’ll converge tomorrow.”

In the second half of the session, attention diverted towards race simulations, with teams attempting long runs on both the super-soft and ultra-soft tyres in preparation for Sunday’s race.

From long-run pace, Mercedes appears to have something of a preliminary advantage over the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull, Hamilton in particular having been able to run more consistently in the 1m42s bracket on a longer super-soft tyre run.

Force India placed seventh and eighth, consolidating its position as the fourth-best team, with Sergio Perez beating Esteban Ocon by just one-hundredth of a second.

McLaren and Williams once appear to be in the fight for the lower end of the points on Sunday, as Felipe Massa split Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, the latter of whom recovered from an early spin at the penultimate corner.

Renault appears to have the upper hand in the battle for sixth in the constructors’ championship, having claimed the ninth and 12th fastest times in practice courtesy of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. respectively.

Hulkenberg, managing to clock in 41 laps in the session, looked strong in the race simulations, which should give the Enstone outfit plenty of optimism in the fight for sixth overall.

Meanwhile, both Haas and Toro Rosso struggled, and the news that Brendon Hartley would once again have to serve a grid penalty for new power unit components emerged before practice. Pierre Gasly was 15th fastest ahead of Kevin Magnussen, both edging ahead of the two Saubers.

Sauber announced that it was to postpone its driver announcement for next season to “at least next week”, with talk emerging that Ferrari’s owners wish to use the team to market its Alfa Romeo brand.

Hartley endured a number of off-track excursions throughout FP2, matching a similar scruffy session from Haas’ Romain Grosjean who blocked Ricciardo on his first ultra-soft hot lap, before going off later on in the evening. Grosjean’s running was later truncated with an electrical issue, managing just 12 laps.

Practice had also been used by F1 in order to trial a range of exhaust microphones, intending to improve the sound of the current V6 hybrid-powered cars on television.
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