Warm temperatures and dry conditions greeted teams upon arrival at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Friday and for most it was a welcome reprieve from the rain-soaked Brazilian Grand Prix in São Paulo two weeks ago.
Two practice sessions on Friday opened the season-ending race weekend, with FP1 run under the sun while FP2 was the far more representative practice session as it emulated the twilight racing conditions teams will face in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Fastest in FP1 was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. His quick time of 1:42.869 was .374 of a second faster than teammate and championship point leader Nico Rosberg. The two drivers are the only ones still competing for the title and Rosberg leads Hamilton by 12 points heading into the season finale.
Hamilton and Rosberg sat atop the charts again in FP2, with Hamilton’s quick time of 1:40.861 outpacing his teammate by a scant .079 of a second.
“That was a solid start to the weekend. Both drivers struggled to put good laps together at various points in each session with traffic and the odd mistake,” said Mercedes’ Paddy Lowe. “But our pace is looking reasonably good on both the single lap and on long runs."
"We have more work to do overnight to make sure we have our setup and strategy right for the weekend ahead. Tonight, these W07 cars will be built to race for the last time - cars that the team has labored over for thousands of hours. It's the first step towards the end of a quite incredible working life for these machines. Hopefully we can give them the send-off they deserve.”