Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton stays ahead of Rosberg in FP2 – but only just

Lewis Hamilton maintained his advantage over championship rival Nico Rosberg in second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but the gap between them was much smaller than in FP1.

Hamilton lapped the Yas Marina track in 1m40.861s on ultrasoft rubber, just 0.079s quicker than Rosberg.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was best of the rest, a quarter of a second off the Mercedes pace, but ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari.

But Vettel's fine performance was ruined by what he reported as "gearbox failure" with 10 minutes left in the session.

Apart from Rosberg, only Vettel was within half a second of Hamilton's time.

As in the first session, Daniil Kvyat suffered a left-rear puncture on his Toro Rosso, but this time at the high-speed Turn 16, causing him to spin wildly off the circuit.

Story of the session

Vettel started the ball rolling with 1m43.337s on the soft-compound tyre, a time that was topped by teammate Raikkonen with 1m42.808s on the supersoft. Raikkonen later improved to 1m42.257s.

Verstappen took an early P2 on 1m43.233s, but that was topped by Vettel and then the supersoft-shod Williams of Valtteri Bottas.

Rosberg was only P6 after his first lap, and then climbed to third on 1m42.294s.

Hamilton set some very tardy laptimes early on, the slowest man on track in the 1m52s bracket, before rejoining on his softs after a pitstop. Rosberg also joined him briefly in the pitlane before also rejoining on his initial long run on the same tyres.

Times plunge on ultrasofts

Vettel tried the ultrasofts just before the 30-minute mark, lowering the P1 time to 1m41.404s, despite a lockup into Turn 7. Bottas jumped back to second on ultrasofts with 1m41.959s.

Rosberg then raised the ultrasoft bar with a lap of 1m40.940s. Verstappen went P3 on 1m41.389s, ahead of Raikkonen and Bottas.

Hamilton, who had languished at the bottom of the times, then unleashed his ultrasoft lap – a 1m40.861s, 0.079s ahead of Rosberg.

During his long run on ultrasofts, Hamilton was told to pit as he'd had an "incorrect front wing adjustment", but he radioed back saying he was fine and stayed out.

Meanwhile, Rosberg suffered a brief off after locking up at Turn 17 on his long run.

Vettel was best of the rest in third, ahead of the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo – who were within 0.001s of each other. Vettel ended his session stranded out on track, however.

Raikkonen was sixth quickest, ahead of Bottas. Force India pairing Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg were next up, with Massa – in his last ever grand prix weekend – rounding out the top 10.

Fernando Alonso was 11th for McLaren, while teammate Jenson Button's last weekend in F1 continued to be troubled, as McLaren was forced into an engine change after his ERS failure in FP1.

Button joined the session late, and set the 12th fastest time, half a second off Alonso.

Esteban Gutierrez was 13th, ahead of Haas teammate Romain Grosjean. Jolyon Palmer was 15th for Renault, ahead of the Manors of Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein.

Felipe Nasr pipped Marcus Ericsson for Sauber honours, both ahead of Renault's Kevin Magnussen.

The Toro Rossos languished at the bottom of the timesheets.

Problems for some

Kvyat suffered his second left-rear puncture of the day in the opening 10 minutes of FP2 that caused a massive spin at Turn 16. He just stopped short of the barrier, despite the 275kph entry speed.

As a result of this failure, Carlos Sainz was also grounded for the rest of the session.

Magnussen and Gutierrez had early overshoots at Turn 8 but they continued.

Grosjean was told to pit with a water-pressure problem: "You need to check the rear-right suspension as well, something is touching."

1  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 36 1'40.861    
2  Nico Rosberg  Mercedes Mercedes 38 1'40.940 0.079 0.079
3  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 31 1'41.130 0.269 0.190
4  Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 24 1'41.389 0.528 0.259
5  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 33 1'41.390 0.529 0.001
6  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari 34 1'41.464 0.603 0.074
7  Valtteri Bottas  Williams Mercedes 35 1'41.959 1.098 0.495
8  Sergio Perez  Force India Mercedes 35 1'42.041 1.180 0.082
9  Nico Hulkenberg  Force India Mercedes 36 1'42.264 1.403 0.223
10  Felipe Massa  Williams Mercedes 36 1'42.268 1.407 0.004
11  Fernando Alonso  McLaren Honda 33 1'42.366 1.505 0.098
12  Jenson Button  McLaren Honda 24 1'42.823 1.962 0.457
13  Esteban Gutierrez  Haas Ferrari 35 1'43.012 2.151 0.189
14  Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 17 1'43.108 2.247 0.096
15  Jolyon Palmer  Renault Renault 33 1'43.272 2.411 0.164
16  Esteban Ocon  Manor Mercedes 35 1'43.600 2.739 0.328
17  Pascal Wehrlein  Manor Mercedes 33 1'43.754 2.893 0.154
18  Felipe Nasr  Sauber Ferrari 36 1'43.903 3.042 0.149
19  Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari 34 1'44.045 3.184 0.142
20  Kevin Magnussen  Renault Renault 25 1'44.117 3.256 0.072
21  Carlos Sainz Jr.  Toro Rosso Ferrari 5 1'44.478 3.617 0.361
22  Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso Ferrari 4 1'45.948 5.087 1.470
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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Abu Dhabi GP
Track Yas Marina Circuit
Drivers Jenson Button , Kimi Raikkonen , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Nico Rosberg , Sebastian Vettel , Sergio Perez , Daniel Ricciardo , Max Verstappen
Article type Practice report