Hamilton turns corner as rivals slip up


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The Independent Online

The previous day he had spoken of trying to rediscover his mojo, of reinflating the bubble of comfort around himself to emulate his more successful team-mate, Jenson Button.

Yesterday Lewis Hamilton took a step back towards that more comfortable feeling when he not only dominated the second practice session in the twilight of Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina, but saw arch-rivals Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel each fall foul of the same corner in their efforts to keep up.

Hamilton took control soon after switching to the soft-compound Pirelli tyres on which Vettel and his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber had initially set the pace, and on which Alonso later took over. And making it a satisfactory day for McLaren, Button was only 0.199sec slower.

"It was a really positive day for me," Hamilton said. "The car feels good, and our long-run pace doesn't feel too bad and we seem to be quite competitive. The car feels a lot better than it did at the last race, so I really hope I'll be able to keep that going throughout the remainder of the weekend.

"The track just got better and better today, so I slowly chipped away at the set-up. The tyres are behaving well; at the last race I had degradation and didn't have the pace, so it feels much better this weekend. That's a real positive for me.

"When you come through a Friday without any problems, it definitely makes you feel confident for the rest of the weekend."

Vettel, who had stood unhappily by the side of the track watching his rivals' progress and was clearly not amused by his gaffe, was later able to resume running in the closing minutes after Red Bull had retrieved his car.

"It wasn't too much," he said of the incident. "I lost the car on the entrance to Turn 1. I was too wide and too far on the kerb, so I lost the rear and couldn't catch it. There wasn't much damage apart from the front wing. But if you just touch the kerb there, then it's fine, but I went too far on to it."

The world champion has made a habit this year of winning or finishing on the podium even after making minor mistakes earlier in the weekend – he did it in Turkey and Hungary and again in Suzuka – but said he expects that qualifying will be very tight this afternoon.

Abu Dhabi Practice

Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit

First Practice

1 J Button (GB) McLaren-Mercedes: 1 min 40.263 secs

2 M Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault: 1:40.389

3 L Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes: 1:40.403

4 S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull-Renault: 1:40.755

5 F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari: 1:40.801

6 F Massa (Br) Ferrari: 1:41.260

7 A Sutil (Ger) Force India-Mercedes: 1:41.340

8 N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP: 1:42.130

9 P Di Resta (GB) Force India-Mercedes: 1:42.151

10 J Alguersuari (Sp) Toro Rosso-Ferrari: 1:42.377

11 J-E Vergne (Fr) Toro Rosso-Ferrari: 1:42.633

12 R Grosjean (Swit) Renault: 1:42.685

13 V Petrov (Rus) Renault: 1:43.118

14 P Maldonado (Ven) Williams-Cosworth: 1:43.255

15 M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP: 1:43.389

16 S Perez (Mex) Sauber: 1:44.412

17 K Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber: 1:44.484

18 H Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus-Renault: 1:44.565

19 J Trulli (It) Lotus-Renault: 1:44.898

20 V Liuzzi (It) HRT-Cosworth: 1:46.385

21 D Ricciardo (Aus) HRT-Cosworth: 1:46.532

22 T Glock (Ger) Virgin-Cosworth: 1:48.024

23 R Wickens (Can) Virgin-Cosworth: 1:48.551

24 R Barrichello (Br) Williams-Cosworth: No time

Second Practice

1. L Hamilton: 1 min 39.586 secs

2 J Button: 1:39.785

3 F Alonso: 1:39.971

4 F Massa: 1:39.980

5 M Webber: 1:40.104

6 S Vettel: 1:40.132

7 M Schumacher: 1:40.553

8 A Sutil: 1:40.951

9 P Di Resta: 1:41.021

10 K Kobayashi: 1:41.490

11 S Perez: 1:41.565

12 S Buemi: 1:41.680

13 V Petrov: 1:41.947

14 J Alguersuari: 1:41.983

15 B Senna: 1:42.369

16 R Barrichello: 1:42.798

17 P Maldonado: 1:42.910

18 H Kovalainen: 1:43.562

19 J Trulli: 1:44.050

20 N Rosberg: 1:44.265

21 T Glock: 1:45.486

22 J d'Ambrosio: 1:46.142

23 V Liuzzi: 1:46.249

24 D Ricciardo: 1:46.328