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Friday analysis - Ferrari the dark horses in Abu Dhabi? 11 Nov 2011

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari spun in the first practice session.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011 Paul di Resta (GBR) Sahara Force India Formula One Team VJM04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011 Jaime Alguersuari (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011 Bruno Senna (BRA) Lotus Renault GP R31. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW33. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus T128. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011 Robert Wickens (CDN) Virgin Racing MVR-02 Reserve Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) HRT Formula 1 Team F111. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011

It was a normal Friday by F1 standards, as teams focused on tyre evaluation, and short- and long-run work, with the difference that Pirelli gave each driver two extra sets of developmental soft tyres to try. McLaren used them to good effect to dominate the times, but it was Ferrari who surprised by out-pacing Red Bull…

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 40.403s, P3/1m 39.586s, P1
Jenson Button, 1m 40.263s, P1/1m 39.785s, P2

Hamilton said he was happy with everything today and that he just kept chipping away improving his McLaren. Button said he wasn’t totally happy with his car’s balance but was confident that the shortcoming can be rectified. Interestingly, however, he suggests that overtaking will be tricky even with two DRS zones, and that qualifying will thus be super critical.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 40.801s, P5/1m 39.971s, P3
Felipe Massa, 1m 41.260s, P6/1m 39.980s, P4

Alonso was angry with himself for the mistake that cost him a chunk of time in FP2 after he, like Vettel, used too much kerb in Turn One and reversed into the wall. Massa said he had two good sessions, and that despite appearances, he couldn’t feel any vibrations from the 150° Italia’s distinctively wobbly front wing.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 40.389s, P2/1m 40.104s, P5
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 40.755s, P4/1m 40.132s, P6

Webber said he had a pretty good day, and that he was happy with the way things went. Vettel was not amused with himself for the mistake which put him (quite gently) into the wall in Turn One after he took too much kerb, but the only damage was to the front wing and he was able to get out with 10 minutes remaining. Both feel they will be there or thereabouts tomorrow.

Mercedes
Michael Schumacher, 1m 43.389s, P15/1m 40.553s, P7
Nico Rosberg, 1m 42.130s, P8/1m 44.265s, P20

Schumacher said he maximised what his car had to offer, even though that entailed a lot of running into the painted run-off areas rather than on the grey stuff, while Rosberg focused on race set-up work and evaluation of new parts.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 41.340s, P7/1m 40.951s, P8
Paul di Resta, 1m 42.151s, P9/1m 41.021s, P9

Sutil reported low grip from the track surface initially, but said that Force India got the set-up nicely honed as the day progressed and they were able to improve low-speed traction. Di Resta was also happy with his day’s work after the lack of rear-end grip he experienced in the morning had been sorted by FP2.

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 44.484, P17/1m 41.490s, P10
Sergio Perez 1m 44.412s, P16/1m 41.565s, P11

Kobayashi said more work was needed on his car’s slow-corner behaviour and stability under braking, while Perez wants to improve his C30’s long-run balance.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi (pm only), 1m 41.680s, P12
Jaime Alguersuari, 1m 42.377s, P10/1m 41.983s, P14
Jean-Eric Vergne (am only), 1m 42.633s, P11

Neither Buemi nor Alguersuari had anything untoward to report and both said they were satisfied with the way their days panned out. Vergne’s only regret was not pushing hard enough on his first lap on soft tyres, but in his first real F1 run on a dry track he made a big impression with 11th fastest time in FP1.

Renault
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 43.118s, P13/1m 41.947s, P13
Bruno Senna (pm only), 1m 42.369s, P15
Romain Grosjean (am only), 1m 42.685s, P12

Petrov said he struggled for traction all day, hence laps times which he described as ‘well off the pace.’ Senna only got half a day, but said he identified ways to improve the R31. Grosjean felt like Christmas had come early on his official return to F1, and did the best job of all three.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, No time, P24/1m 42.798s, P16
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 43.255s, P14/1m 42.910s, P17

Barrichello lost all of FP1 after an engine failure, but things ran relatively smoothly in the afternoon.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 44.565s, P18/1m 43.562s, P18
Jarno Trulli, 1m 44.898s, P19/1m 44.050s, P19

Both drivers were happy with their cars’ performance after another solid and trouble-free Friday for the team soon to be Caterham.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 48.024s, P22/1m 45.486s, P21
Jerome D'Ambrosio (pm only), 1m 46.142s, P22
Rob Wickens (am only), 1m 48.551s, P23

Virgin didn’t use their extra sets of soft Pirellis in the morning, when Wickens did an excellent job to get within half a second of Glock on his first official outing at a Grand Prix, as the German struggled to get his MVR-02 to his liking. Given the fact that he had to give up FP1 to Wickens, D’Ambrosio said he was happy with the way things turned out for him in FP2.

HRT
Tonio Liuzzi, 1m 46.385s, P20/1m 46.249s, P23
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 46.532s, P21/1m 46.328s, P24

Liuzzi was happier with his car in the morning, but lost an hour in the afternoon with electronic problems. Ricciardo was unhappy with his car in the morning, and no more satisfied in the afternoon when the changes made appeared to have had little effect.

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