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Abu Dhabi GP: Lewis Hamilton leads opening practice session

Lewis Hamilton, McLarenLewis Hamilton headed Jenson Button as McLaren dominated the first free practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday morning.

Hamilton set his table-topping 1m43.285s lap with 25 of the 90 minutes remaining, and beat his countryman and team-mate by 0.333s, with title protagonists Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso third and fourth.

More than 35 minutes had elapsed when most of the drivers took to the track, surface temperatures having exceeded 45 degrees Celsius by that point.

Jean-Eric Vergne set the initial pace, and brought his marker down from 1m48.9s to 1m46.6s before Valtteri Bottas, Michael Schumacher and Alonso took turns at the top, the latter in 1m45.1s with 50 minutes gone.

Championship leader Vettel was the first driver to break into the 1m44s shortly afterwards, but his spell at the top lasted less than a minute as Hamilton took a lead he would not relinquish.

Button improved his time before the end of the session as Hamilton experimented with a number of different fuel settings during the final half-hour.

Vettel ended up third, despite the double world champion running wide at Turn 16 after getting his Red Bull crossed up on the kerb at the corner's entry.

Ferrari driver Alonso, who had dropped to sixth, set his best time in the final minute of the session to climb back up to fourth, ahead of Mark Webber in the second Red Bull and Michael Schumacher's Mercedes.

Pastor Maldonado and Nico Rosberg completed the top eight while Bottas was the best of the test drivers in action in his Williams. He was ninth overall, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus.

Sauber driver Sergio Perez had a scary moment at the pit entrance with 12 minutes to go. Attempting to simulate a full-speed, race entry, the Mexican ran wide as he turned right and was forced to drive over the run-off area and back onto the race track to avoid contact with the barrier.

Heikki Kovalainen was the only one of the Caterham drivers to set a time as Giedo van der Garde spent the session in the garage as his team tried to rectify an engine installation issue.

Marussia's Max Chilton did get out though, to undertake a series of aero tests in his maiden F1 practice outing.

His team-mate Timo Glock, 20th, suffered a series of lock-ups and wide moments. He lost a potentially strong laptime with 25 minutes left when he was impeded by Schumacher's Mercedes under braking for the left-hander at the end of the main straight.

He communicated his annoyance with a waved hand, but immediately saw Schumacher pull off the track and gesturing a wave of his own in the Marussia's direction by way of apology.

Pos  Driver                Team                    Time               Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes        1m43.285             20
 2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1m43.618s  + 0.333   18
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1m44.050s  + 0.765   21
 4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1m44.366s  + 1.081   20
 5.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1m44.542s  + 1.257   21
 6.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                1m44.694s  + 1.409   21
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1m45.194s  + 1.909   19
 8.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault        1m45.347s  + 2.062   24
 9.  Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault        1m45.347s  + 2.062   23
10.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault           1m45.422s  + 2.137   15
11.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1m45.567s  + 2.282   23
12.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes    1m45.587s  + 2.302   18
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari          1m45.722s  + 2.437   19
14.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault           1m45.743s  + 2.458   19
15.  Jules Bianchi         Force India-Mercedes    1m45.769s  + 2.484   21
16.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari          1m45.811s  + 2.526   21
17.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1m46.649s  + 3.364   22
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1m46.708s  + 3.423   24
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault        1m47.418s  + 4.133   22
20.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth       1m47.891s  + 4.606   19
21.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth            1m48.354s  + 5.069   21
22.  Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth       1m48.887s  + 5.602   21
23.  Ma Qing Hua           HRT-Cosworth            1m50.487s  + 7.202   20
24.  Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault        no time               3

All Timing Unofficial
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