Mercedes Lewis Hamilton was a tenth faster than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the second practice for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Englishman did a 37.8 on the ultrasoft tyres to finish ahead of Vettel who was fastest in the first session
The second session is the more reprehensive session as it takes place at the same time as the Grand Prix. Mercedes have performed better in cooler conditions this season, which allowed Hamilton to edge out former championship rival.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was third a further tenth behind his former teammate, just pipping the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and his teammate Max Verstappen. This weekend is shaping up to be a three-way fight between the top teams as less than half a second separated the top five drivers.
It wasn’t plain sailing for the Australian, as he complained about being held up twice on track by Haas’s Grosjean and later Williams’s Felipe Massa.
Valtteri Bottas and Verstappen were both unable to match the performance of their teammates, with them both sixth tenth and a second down on Hamilton. The Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were eighth and ninth respectively with one-hundredth of a second between them.
On the long run pace, Hamilton was on average nine tenths faster than Vettel on the supersofts. But the difference between Bottas and Raikkonen was two tenths on the ultrasofts, suggesting that they could be not much between the top two teams.
Red Bull could also be in that mix too as the team’s long run pace appears as if they are not far behind. The Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten.
The Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon set identical times. Both drivers have been evenly matched all season, but the gap to Red Bull once again highlights the gap between Force India and the top three teams.
In his final FP2 Felipe Massa managed to get in between the two McLaren’s, with the Brazilian eleventh and Stoffel Vandoorne twelfth. Carlos Sainz was thirteenth fastest, while his former team Toro Rosso only managing Pierre Gasly fifteenth and Brendon Hartley nineteenth.
However, the New Zealander was likely focusing on his long runs thanks to a ten-place grid penalty. Also what would have hampered his running was a lock-up at turn one hampering his runs.
Also being hampered was the Haas of Grosjean who running was cut short by an electrical issue.