F1: Hamilton has work to do ahead of 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

PUBLISHED: 17:54 27 November 2015 | UPDATED: 14:57 29 November 2015

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton driving in Abu Dhabi [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton driving in Abu Dhabi [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]


Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton set the early pace in 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice – but admits he still has work to do ahead of qualifying.

The 30-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas driver from Hertfordshire topped the afternoon session, with Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg second fastest.

The Mercedes pair again lit up Abu Dhabi under the Yas Marina sunset in the evening practice session.

Rosberg came out on top this time with Lewis P2.

Both drivers used the Prime (soft) tyre in first practice followed by the Prime and Option (super soft) in P2.

Abu Dhabi facts & stats: The track

* First race: 2009

* Circuit length: 5.554km (3.451 miles)

* Run to Turn One: 300m (0.186 miles)

* Longest straight: 1,200m (0.746 miles), on the approach to Turn Eight

* Top speed: 325km/h (202mph) on the approach to Turn Eight

* DRS zones: Two – on the approach to Turn Eight and again on the approach to Turn 11

* Key corner: Turn Seven, the left-hand hairpin that precedes the longest straight on the circuit. The DRS detection zone is at corner entry, so it’s important to remain close to the car in front while also getting good traction out of the corner

* Pitlane length: 360 metres (0.224 miles)

* Major changes for 2015: None

Hamilton said: “It’s been a pretty normal Friday.

“The track is behaving very similarly to how it did last year so there’s not much new to learn there.

“I didn’t get the best out of the tyres, but they’re actually really strong here – especially the super soft.”

He added: “I made some changes to the car between the sessions and so far it’s felt relatively good.

Abu Dhabi facts & stats: The race

* Start time: 1700 (local) / 1300 (GMT)

* Race distance: 51 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75 per cent distance/41 laps)

* 2014 winner: Lewis Hamilton 55 laps in 1:39m02.619

* 2014 pole position: Nico Rosberg 1m40.480 198.988km/h (123.645mph)

* 2014 fastest lap: Daniel Ricciardo lap 50 1m44.496 191.341km/h (118.894mph)

* Safety Car likelihood: Low. Statistically, there’s a 40 per cent chance of a Safety Car and while there wasn’t an SC period last year, there were three in the five years prior to that

* Don’t put the kettle on... On laps 12 or 32. Overtaking is difficult, so a lot of ground can be won and lost at the start. Once we get into the race, expect a two-stop strategy from most cars, which means pitting on or around laps 12 and 32

* Weather forecast: Hot – we’re in the desert after all. But this is a twilight race and temperatures drop as the race progresses

“The long run pace doesn’t feel quite as strong so that’s something I need to work on.

“I’ll probably make some more tweaks tonight [Friday] and hopefully tomorrow [Saturday] it will be better.

“It’s very hard to overtake here, so of course it’s better to be up on pole.

“But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to win from further back.”

Abu Dhabi facts & stats: The car

* Fuel consumption: 1.8kg per lap, which is on the medium-to-high side

* Full throttle: 60 per cent

* Brake wear: High. There are 13 braking events around the lap, the hardest of which is into Turn Eight, where forces peak at 5.09g

* Gear changes: 68 per lap/3,740 per race

Rosberg clocked 1m 41.983s to pip Hamilton to first place in second practice.

The German F1 World Championship runner-up said: “It’s been a good start here in Abu Dhabi – but it will be a tough weekend for me as I have quite a high mileage engine in my car.

“After the Monza problem, we have had to stretch the engine life more than we had planned over the 19 races, so I definitely have a small lack of power on the straights and therefore need to make up extra time in the corners.

“It will be a big battle with Lewis here.

“He didn’t really bring together his quick laps, so it will be even closer tomorrow I’m sure.

“I’m looking forward to it and I definitely want to win this race and give the boys in the garage a reason to celebrate at the end of the season.”

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes’ executive director (technical), explained the team’s practice programme today.

He said: “We had a very full programme in P1. Track temperatures are very high in the afternoon here and not really representative of the competitive sessions - i.e. qualifying and the race.

“So, this was a session with a bit more bias towards R&D than race preparation.

“We had quite a few different programmes spread across the two cars, which all ran fairly well and provided a lot of good data.

“In P2 we then moved into our regular Friday routine of low and high fuel running on the Prime and Option tyre.

“Our pace on low fuel looked to be quite strong – but the long runs were harder to distinguish with different fuel loads and run plans.

“Degradation is quite high here, particularly on the Option.

“We have some work to do overnight, as the setup isn’t quite where we want it to be on either car.”

Qualifying takes place on Saturday.

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