Sebastian Vettel shows no signs of easing up after clinching a fourth straight title last week as he led the field once more in second practice for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The German recorded an incredible sixth successive win in India to take the drivers’ championship with three races to spare, but his domination continued on Friday as he led Red Bull teammate Mark Webber on Friday afternoon. Lewis Hamilton was best of the rest in his Mercedes, followed by the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen. And it is Lotus, who Vettel expects to be the main threat to the continuation of his winning run.
“It’s difficult to say today how we compare to the others, we know the Lotus is quick here, but we also had decent pace today,” he said, according to the official Formula One website. “It’s not always so easy at this circuit with the conditions changing throughout the day; we start in the sun and finish at night and the track temperature changes during that time. But, no big issues, so I’m pretty happy.”
Romain Grosjean has recorded three straight podium places and looked quick again in topping the timing charts on Friday morning. Although he had a problem with his car in the second session, the Lotus driver remains confident.
“It’s been a pretty good day even if we missed time in the later session whilst the brakes were worked on,” he explained. “We also had a little vibration that needed looking at, but it wasn’t the end of the world. The car feels pretty good as we saw with the fastest time in the first session, so I’m sure we’ll get on top of everything we need to for tomorrow.”
Grosjean’s teammate Raikkonen has again been in the news after threatening not to take part in the final two races of the season due to a pay dispute with the Lotus team, The Finn, who will drive for Ferrari last year, claims not to have been paid all year.
"I came here [to Abu Dhabi] only because hopefully we found an understanding," he said, according to BBC Sport. "I enjoy driving but a big part of it is business. If it's not dealt with as it should be, we end up in an unfortunate situation. Hopefully it will be fixed and we can finish the season. "
Paddock talk has also been consumed with news of Ross Brawn’s impending departure from Mercedes. The technical supremo has reportedly failed to agree on a role for next season with Mercedes wanting a more collaborative leadership, although neither the team nor Brawn have commented on the situation. Mercedes are still fighting for second place in the constructors’ championship and looked good in practice, with Nico Rosberg two places behind Hamilton in fifth. Rosberg again feels that the Red Bulls are out of reach, but that he can get the edge on the likes of Ferrari and Lotus.
“It should be an interesting race from a strategy perspective as the tires seem to be right on the limit of one or two stops,” he explained. “Our aim is to be the best of the rest again which I'm quite confident we can achieve and score some important points.”
Where to watch: Qualifying for the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will get underway at 9 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by CNBC, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.