McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton has gone quickest in the second free practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, raising hopes in the Woking squad that he could still be a contender for the 2010 championship title.
Despite being almost mathematically out of contention to take a second championship crown – Fernando Alonso simply needs to score a point for Hamilton to be knocked out of the hunt – Hamilton’s strong pace in the Mercedes-powered MP4-24 bodes well for the rest of the weekend, with the Briton outpacing the other championship contenders of Sebastian Vettel, Alonso and Mark Webber, who completed the top-four places on the timesheets.
The Yas Marina circuit provided infinitely more grip in the day’s second practice session, with drivers lapping some four seconds faster than they had managed on an initially damp track in the first 90-minute session.
As more rubber was laid down, Alonso headed the order after the field had completed its initial heavier-fuel runs on the harder compound Bridgestone tyres, but it was Hamilton who stole the honours when the drivers switched to runs on the softer tyres. Vettel also leapfrogged Alonso in this sequence to go second-quickest overall, although managed this with a margin of just one-thousandth of a second.
Robert Kubica was the fastest of the drivers not to still be in the championship hunt, finishing up in fifth place, with Felipe Massa being joined by the rather more surprising pair of Vitaly Petrov (seventh) and Vitantonio Liuzzi (ninth) amidst the usual suspects of Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg to complete the top-ten on the timing screens.
As with the first session, it was again a generally incident-free 90-minute period, with Jaime Alguersuari providing one of the few moments of note when he spun his Toro Rosso at Turn 19, continuing without any damage.
2010 Abu Dhabi GP Practice 2 Session Times:
[Original images via Sutton Images]