Lewis Hamilton has opened the Abu Dhabi GP weekend with the fastest time in the opening practice session

McLaren has claimed a 1-2 in Friday’s opening practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finishing up comfortably quickest of the field at the Yas Marina circuit.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel ended up third-fastest, with his chief championship rival Fernando Alonso just behind in fourth place.

No less than five reserve drivers took part in the ninety-minute session, with Williams’ perennial ‘Man Friday’, Valtteri Bottas, emerging comfortably quickest, while Jules Bianchi (Force India), Giedo van der Garde (Caterham) and Qing Hua Ma (HRT) also having further outings for their respective teams.

Making his Grand Prix debut this weekend was British driver Max Chilton in the Marussia. The Surrey-born driver took over Charles Pic’s car for the session, working through a series of programs for the Sheffield-based team before he hands over the car for the evening’s activities.

Van der Garde, meanwhile, had a disappointing session. The Dutch GP2 driver was sidelined after just three tours of the five-kilometre circuit when his Caterham suffered an engine failure.

Hamilton’s session-topping effort came with a little under half an hour to run in the session, while Button closed to within one-third of a second of his team-mate on his final flying lap of the session.

Behind the top-four came Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher, closely followed by Pastor Maldonado, Nico Rosberg, and the Finnish pairing of Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen, who lost some running in the session when he was hit by a puncture.

The session saw little in the way of incident, although Sergio Perez had a major scare when he attempted a full-speed pit entry arrival, only to suffer a huge slide as he slewed towards the pit wall. Fortunately he managed to avoid any contact, and continued on another tour of the circuit without any further drama in his Sauber.

2012 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:43.285   21
2. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:43.618 + 0.333 19
3. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:44.050 + 0.765 23
4. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:44.366 + 1.081 21
5. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:44.542 + 1.257 22
6. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:44.694 + 1.409 23
7. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:45.115 + 1.830 26
8. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:45.194 + 1.909 19
9. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW34 1:45.347 + 2.062 25
10. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:45.422 + 2.137 15
11. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:45.567 + 2.282 24
12. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:45.587 + 2.302 20
13. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:45.722 + 2.437 20
14. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:45.743 + 2.458 20
15. Jules Bianchi FRA Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:45.769 + 2.484 22
16. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:45.811 + 2.526 22
17. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:46.649 + 3.364 24
18. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:46.708 + 3.423 26
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:47.418 + 4.133 23
20. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:47.891 + 4.606 21
21. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:48.354 + 5.069 22
22. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:48.887 + 5.602 22
23. Qing Hua Ma CHN HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:50.487 + 7.202 20
24. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT01 no time   3

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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.