Mercedes duo streets ahead

Published: Friday 21st November 2014 by The News Editor

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Formula One championship chasers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were in a class of their own ahead of Sunday’s title-deciding duel in Abu Dhabi.

At the conclusion of the first 90-minute session at the Yas Marina circuit, just 0.133seconds separated the Mercedes team-mates, with the rest absolutely nowhere.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso again headed the chasing pack, as has often been the case this season, but in his last race for Ferrari before rejoining McLaren the Spaniard was a staggering 1.7secs adrift of Hamilton.

Whilst the Mercedes duo were lapping in the one minute 43s range, no other driver could even get into the one minute 44s, such is the advantage that has been carved out by the Banbury-based marque.

It already appears clear only a mechanical issue can deny Hamilton the title as with a 17-point lead over Rosberg, and with double points controversially on offer this weekend, he only has to finish in the top two to secure his second crown.

Even McLaren’s Jenson Button, potentially competing in the last race of his 15-season career as his future remains in limbo with McLaren not deciding on their driver line-up until after December 1, found the situation amusing.

With his car in the garage due to a technical fault, watching from the sidelines, Button tweeted: “Great to see @MercedesAMGF1 have got a lot of competition here in Abu Dhabi!! 1.7second gap!”

Behind Alonso came the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel, now confirmed as replacing Alonso at Ferrari, and Daniel Ricciardo, but with both 1.8secs off the pace.

Toro Rosso duo Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat were sixth and seventh on the timesheet, but more than 2.2secs behind Hamilton.

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was next up in eighth, but the Finn only managed eight laps after the sidepod bodywork ripped off his car at one point early on in the session.

The team also discovered the sidepod was loose on team-mate Felipe Massa’s car, with the Brazilian only managing seven laps before being consigned to the garage whilst mechanics worked on both cars.

The Force India pair of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10, with McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari down in 11th and 12th respectively.

There were three debutants on track, with Lotus giving a run out to Esteban Ocon who acquitted himself well by finishing 16th and 3.590secs off the pace.

Adderley Fong for Sauber was 19th and 4.793secs adrift, sandwiching the Caterham pair of Kamui Kobayashi and another newcomer in Will Stevens.

The Leafield-based team are back on the grid after being allowed to miss the last two races due to falling into administration.

With the team in the shop window, 23-year-old Essex racer Stevens had to wait until 15 minutes from the end of the session before finally savouring his first taste of F1 after encountering technical issues.

Stevens’ first timed lap was more than 11 seconds down on Hamilton, but after putting in a run he finished 7.208secs in arrears.

Published: Friday 21st November 2014 by The News Editor

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