Kovalainen Abu Dhabi

Heikki Kovalainen moved ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton to lead a McLaren quinella in Abu Dhabi’s second free practice session on Friday evening. The silver pairing led the way from World Champion Jenson Button as Sebastian Vettel, who finished fourth, saw his last quick lap ruined by Giancarlo Fisichella’s Ferrari.

With the sun already setting as the second 90-minute practice began, the field found itself circulating the brand-new track under floodlights as the session came to a close at 6:30pm local time. Temperatures may have dropped from those witnessed in the afternoon but the growing crowd was still able to enjoy the round figure of 30°C.

The infamous Yas Marina pit exit did not provide the chaos some had predicted, although there are busier and more hectic sessions still to come this weekend; Nick Heidfeld came closest to having a problem when the rear end of the BMW stepped out inside the tunnel. With the German finishing 13th, it was a generally lacklustre day for the Swiss team on the manufacturer’s final outing in Formula One; the second car of Robert Kubica was grounded at the Turn 7 hairpin following an engine blow-up.

At the pointy end of the field, Kovalainen led the way from Hamilton with a lap time of 1:41.307, over two and half seconds quicker than the Englishman’s pace-setting effort of the first session. The Woking team therefore looks in good shape to retain third position in the Constructors’ Championship this weekend, not least because the Ferraris of Kimi Räikkönen and Giancarlo Fisichella wound up 10th and 17th respectively.

Fisichella, whose 5-race experience with the Scuderia has been extremely disappointing, also grabbed attention by baulking the Red Bull of Vettel on its flying lap; with the German gesticulating angrily in the cockpit, the man attempting to defend the championship runner-up spot finished fourth, behind Button, as Kamui Kobayashi’s Toyota impressed with a top-five position.

The second Red Bull and Brawn cars of Mark Webber and Rubens Barrichello were locked together in seventh and eighth places as the Force India of Adrian Sutil – which suffered a small number of off-track moments due to a brake problem – recovered to a respectable 11th. Kubica, who watched much of the session from the BMW garage, rounded out the field in 20th spot.

2009 Abu Dhabi GP Practice 2 Session Times:

1. Heikki Kovalainen McLaren Mercedes 1:41.307 (35 laps)
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 1:41.501 (34)
3. Jenson Button Brawn GP Mercedes 1:41.541 (39)
4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 1:41.591 (37)
5. Kamui Kobayashi Toyota 1:41.636 (34)
6. Sébastien Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:41.683 (37)
7. Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 1:41.684 (34)
8. Rubens Barrichello Brawn GP Mercedes 1:41.831 (38)
9. Nico Rosberg Williams Toyota 1:41.931 (39)
10. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:41.987 (39)
11. Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes 1:42.180 (28)
12. Kazuki Nakajima Williams Toyota 1:42.245 (36)
13. Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:42.278 (36)
14. Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:4.409 (30)
15. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India Mercedes 1:42.530 (33)
16. Fernando Alonso Renault 1:42.782 (29)
17. Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari 1:42.932 (37)
18. Romain Grosjean Renault 1:43.021 (37)
19. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:43.022 (39)
20. Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:43.708 (13)
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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.