Force India surprises Red Bull and Ferrari with Abu Dhabi F1 pace

Force India's form in practice for Formula 1's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix caught Ferrari and Red Bull by surprise, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo admitted

Force India surprises Red Bull and Ferrari with Abu Dhabi F1 pace

Sergio Perez finished the second F1 practice session in third place, as the nearest challenger to Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

Perez's run came amid a flurry of qualifying simulations on Pirelli's super-soft compound and put him just ahead of the Ferraris and Red Bulls.

With Nico Hulkenberg also eighth, Vettel declared "Force India was surprisingly quick".

Ricciardo echoed his former team-mate's view after finishing the session fourth, between Perez and Vettel, on what he declared a positive day for Red Bull.

"Force India were strong," he said.

"They surprised us, probably more than we surprised ourselves."

PEREZ PLEASED WITH GAP TO MERCEDES

Perez said that being 0.627 seconds behind Rosberg on the timesheets, rather than third in the order, was the major positive.

"Today we had probably the best Friday of the year," he said.

"Not because of the position, but because of the gap to the Mercedes, six tenths away.

"I think we have never been that close to the Mercedes.

"Obviously the Ferraris and the Red Bulls put their lap in a bit earlier than us so there is a bit of track improvement there.

"But it was still a very strong lap, which makes me feel happy with the balance as well."

Perez's long run and session finished early, when his left-rear brake pad failed and started a fire.

He is confident of fighting Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams - which finished Friday with both cars outside of the top 10 - in qualifying, but acknowledges that losing track time could hurt on Sunday.

"Generally, Williams carry quite a bit of fuel, from what we have seen, on Fridays for some reason," he said.

"We can give them a good run tomorrow, Ferrari will be strong, obviously Red Bull as well, but we can be up there fighting with them.

"We lost quite a bit of information on the long run.

"I'm not so happy with the long run pace, the balance, so there is something we have to analyse tonight to get the best compromise between qualifying and the race."

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