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Friday analysis - who is feeling the desert heat? 02 Nov 2012

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012 in the garage.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW34 Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012

Once again in Abu Dhabi, consistent weather enabled the teams to conduct their usual Friday set-up and tyre assessment work without interruption, on an evolving Yas Marina Circuit. Opinion thus far seems to be divided on the subject of tyre degradation, with some reporting it, others not. We take a team-by-team look at the early formbook…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 44.050s, P3/1m 41.751s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 44.542s, P5/1m 42.466s, P4

Vettel really got the soft-compound Pirellis working well to dominate FP2 after a tough battle with Hamilton, and said he was happy with his RB8’s performance. Webber, however, ran into another KERS problem which hampered his afternoon.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 43.285s, P1/1m 41.919s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 43.618s, P2/1m 42.412s, P3

After setting the pace in the morning and running Red Bull close in the afternoon, McLaren said they had created a “promising foundation” for the rest of the weekend. Both drivers had a little trouble switching on the soft tyres again, and Hamilton also experienced the sort of downshift problem that had obliged the team to change his steering wheel in his pit stop in India. They also need to work on balance.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 45.743s, P14/1m 42.500s, P5
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 45.422s, P10/1m 42.532s, P6

The mood is high here, with both drivers believing that they can get deeper into the fight up front than has been the case for some time. Updates seemed to be working well and Grosjean admitted that his fifth-best time in FP2, though competitive, wasn’t “the best lap of my life.”

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 44.366s, P4/1m 42.587s, P7
Felipe Massa, 1m 45.567s, P11/1m 42.823s, P8

Ferrari had new front and rear wings to try, among other subtle aero updates. Technical chief Pat Fry said that some of the updates were positive, but that they required careful evaluation via all the data this evening before a decision is taken whether to continue with them tomorrow.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 45.115s, P7/1m 42.998s, P9
Bruno Senna (pm only), 1m 43.191s, P11
Valtteri Bottas (am only), 1m 45.347s, P9

Maldonado was very happy with the way his car ran and its long-run pace, but Senna said he had problems with tyre degradation and braking. Bottas was right on Maldonado’s pace - they set equal times until the Venezuelan improved right at the end of FP1. The mood is good here.

Sauber
Sergio Perez, 1m 45.811s, P16/1m 43.106s, P10
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 45.722s, P13/1m 43.689s, P16

Perez was very pleased with the way his day went and is confident of fighting for a place in Q3. Kobayashi, however, said he was unhappy with his C31’s grip and balance.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 45.194s, P8/1m 43.200s, P12
Michael Schumacher, 1m 44.694s, P6/1m 43.267s, P14

Both drivers said that their FP2 pace was a good indication of where they are in the pecking order, and they plan race strategies designed to garner points.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 45.587s, P12/1m 43.255s, P13
Paul di Resta (pm only), 1m 43.578s, P15
Jules Bianchi (am only) 1m 45.769s, P15

Hulkenberg and Di Resta reported that they gathered plenty of data to sort through this evening, but said that they lacked grip and that it was difficult to know quite where they stand. Bianchi enjoyed his best FP1 outing, with a decent performance until the tyres went off.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 46.649s, P17/1m 44.260s, P17
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 46.708s, P18/1m 45.005s, P18

Ricciardo said his car lacked grip to begin with, while Vergne also complained that his was off the pace. Both suspect that the STR7 simply lacked ultimate downforce here.

Caterham
Vitaly Petrov (pm only), 1m 45.245s, P19
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 47.418s, P19/1m 45.782s, P20
Giedo van der Garde (am only), No time, P24

Van der Garde unluckily lost his morning run to problems with the engine associated either with the electronic boxes or the wiring loom, but in the same car later on Petrov solved some handling issues and was happy with the balance by the end of FP2. Kovalainen spent his day gathering data on an upgraded package, with the aim of finding the right direction to go with it in FP3 and qualifying.

Marussia
Timo Glock, 1m 47.891s, P20/1m 46.589s, P21
Charles Pic (pm only), 1m 46.671s, P22
Max Chilton (am only), 1m 48.887s, P22

Glock tried some developments for the 2013 car in FP1, carrying many sensors on his MR01, but complained that he seemed forever to encounter Petrov during his soft-tyre runs in FP2. Pic said he wasn’t where he wanted to be yet in terms of car behaviour and is looking for a step forward in FP3, while Chilton acquitted himself well in his run in FP1, which he said went as well as he could have hoped for.

HRT
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 48.354s, P21/1m 46.707s, P23
Narain Karthikeyan (pm only), 1m 47.406s, P24
Ma Qing Hua (am only), 1m 50.487s, P23

De la Rosa said he achieved his aim of finding a decent balance early on, and was then able to focus on configuration testing with the view to keep the brakes as cool as possible after last week’s dramas. Karthikeyan spent time learning an unfamiliar track, in which endeavour he wasn’t helped by having to give up his car to Qing Hua in the morning. The Chinese driver did another reasonable job.

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