F1 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Hamilton faster than Rosberg ahead of title decider
PUBLISHED: 18:01 21 November 2014 | UPDATED: 18:01 21 November 2014
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton topped the practice timesheets at the Yas Marina Circuit ahead of the season-deciding 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas team kicked off the final weekend of the 2014 F1 season by dominating practice in Abu Dhabi today (Friday).
Hamilton and Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg were separated by the narrowest of margins on a scorching opening day’s running at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The 29-year-old Hertfordshire racer topped the times during both the morning and afternoon session, with Rosberg P2 in each.
Just 0.133 seconds split the pair in the first session, with Hamilton clocking a lap of 1m 43.476s.
2014 World Drivers’ Championship
After 2014 Brazilian GP
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 334 points
2 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 317
3 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 214
4 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 159
5 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 157
6 Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 156
7 Jenson Button (McLaren) 106
8 Felipe Massa (Williams) 98
The gap between the Silver Arrows pair was just 0.083s in the second session, with Hamilton quickest with a 1m 42.113s.
World championship leader Hamilton said: “It’s been a good Friday. We’ve run the same programme as we run every race weekend but this time we had the whole of both sessions to work with the tyres, look at long runs, analyse set-up and the countless other things you need to assess in practice which was great.
“We made good steps forward with the set-up but, as always, there is still more time to be found.”
Hamilton continued: “We’ll keep chipping away at it and look to improve in every area possible but the car feels great – the best I’ve ever driven here without doubt.
Yas Marina – the stats you need
* Race distance: 55 laps (305.355km/189.747 miles)
* Start time: 17:00 (local)/13:00 (GMT)
* Circuit length: 5.554km/3.451 miles
* 2013 winner: Sebastian Vettel
* 2013 pole: Mark Webber
* Lap record: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB5) 1m40.279s (199.387km/h)
“The team have done an amazing job. Coming into the weekend I was already excited and couldn’t wait to get out on track.
“When you know you have a package as competitive as ours, it’s like being a kid at Christmas.”
Hamilton leads the championship by 17 points from his Mercedes team-mate, but double points are on offer for the final race of the season.
The 2008 F1 world champion added: “I don’t feel any particular pressure this weekend.
“I’ll just drive the way I always drive and what will be, will be.
“So far it’s all moving in the right direction so I just have to keep working away at it.”
Title rival Rosberg said: “It’s been a good day today but I really haven’t got my best lap together yet, so there is still a lot of work to do over the rest of the weekend.
“In general the car felt great out there today.
“I just need to fine-tune it so that the set-up is exactly to my liking, then go for it and get the job done.”
As for the Yas Marina Circuit, Rosberg said: “This track really is amazing.
“It’s always a highlight when darkness falls and the lights come up – just spectacular!
“It will be a great show here, so I hope the fans at the circuit and everyone watching at home enjoy it.”
Both Mercedes drivers ran the soft compound Pirelli tyres only in the morning session, and then the soft and supersoft in the afternoon.
Both cars ran trouble-free throughout each session.
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport chief Toto Wolff said: “That was a positive Friday and we are pleased to have started off this title-deciding weekend with both cars running smoothly throughout.
“We completed our programme with plenty of laps on the board and our long runs shaping up as expected.
“Without doubt the tension and pressure are on – which is normal when the Championship comes down to the final Grand Prix of the season – but actually it doesn’t feel any greater than at any other race.
“There is a good spirit in the garage and we are all looking forward to seeing what the rest of the weekend holds.”
Team technical director Paddy Lowe added: “The final and most important Friday of this incredible season and, thankfully, all went to plan.
“We managed to complete our homework in the first and second sessions on the different tyres with no issues to report and both drivers were happy with the performance of the car.
“Our pace looks strong and we’ve got good data from the tyres that will help us plan for Sunday.”
Lowe added: “We will be working hard overnight to optimise both qualifying and race set-up with the objective of locking out the front-row and giving a clear competition between Lewis and Nico on Sunday.
“There are a few other cars that are quicker than they seem, so we are not taking anything for granted.”
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