Lewis Hamilton puts Mercedes on top in FP2
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - FP2

Lewis Hamilton puts Mercedes on top in FP2

Lewis Hamilton swapped places with Sebastian Vettel at the top of the order as Mercedes and Ferrari remained close during Friday evening practice at Yas Marina.

In the first session of the weekend to replicate qualifying and the race, which start in twighlight and end under the floodlit night sky, Hamilton's 1:37.877 led the way. The 2017 world champion had been just 0.120s behind Vettel's lead time in FP1 but jumped above the Ferrari driver in the evening, edging the German out by 0.149s. While the times of FP1 are rarely too accurate an indication of the weekend's form given the fact it takes place in much hotter conditions than any competitive session, the fact Mercedes and Ferrari remained that close suggests a close fight is in store on Saturday and Sunday.

Red Bull had been within around the same margin -- 0.148s -- of Vettel in FP1 but finished three tenths off the pace in what appeared to be a challenging session for both drivers. Daniel Ricciardo twice appeared to get held up behind another driver, complaining about Haas driver Romain Grosjean before having a close on-track moment with Felipe Massa later on. Max Verstappen could only finish sixth, a full 0.7s off his teammate and 1.017s off Hamilton's lead time, but did not appear to complete a clean flying lap for his main ultra-soft tyre attempt.

Between the Red Bull drivers were the Finnish pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas, who both struggled to keep pace with respective teammates Vettel and Hamilton in this year's title fight.

Away from the usual fight between the three quickest teams, Force India teammates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon crossed in identical times -- 1:39.323. Perez claimed seventh by virtue of setting his time first. Though impressive to ever see two drivers cross in exactly the same time, the 1.4s gap between Hamilton in first and two pink cars in seventh and eighth is another reminder of the big problem F1 faces in terms of disparity between teams.

Nico Hulkenberg finished ninth, with Fernando Alonso rounding out the top 10 for McLaren. Felipe Massa's last ever FP2 session saw him split Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne in the other McLaren. Carlos Sainz was 13th, meaning Renault finished ahead of both Toro Rosso's on a weekend it is hoping to snatch sixth position from the Faenza squad.

Lance Stroll endured a messy session, running wide at the penultimate corner on two occasions, as he finished 13th, though this season the Canadian rookie has spent much of Friday focusing more on tyre management and race set-up rather than trying to find outright one-lap pace. Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly finished 15th.

Pierre Gasly finished 15th for Toro Rosso, 0.5s off the pace of the nearest Renault, a gap the team will hope to bring down in time for qualifying and the race. Kevin Magnussen, who appeared to be the subject of a complaint from Mercedes and Valtteri Bottas for blocking during the session, was 16th, ahead of Sauber pair Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson.

Brendon Hartley finished 19th, likely focused on race trim knowing he has a 10-place penalty to serve after qualifying for another Renault engine component change inside his Toro Rosso car. The New Zealander's progress appeared to be hampered by a spin at Turn 1, giving him a big flat-spot on the tyre which forced a pit stop. At the bottom of the order was Haas' Romain Grosjean, whose session was limited to just 12 laps of the Yas Marina circuit before Haas detected an electrical issue in his car.

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