McLaren pair upbeat after practice

Heikki Kovalainen was encouraged by his performance in Friday's practice sessions for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after topping the times in the afternoon

McLaren pair upbeat after practice

The McLaren driver finished ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton after completing 35 laps in second practice to set a best time of 1:41.307, nearly two tenths of a second faster than the Briton.

Kovalainen admitted he was pleased with his day's work and said the new Yas Marina circuit was enjoyable.

"The whole day was pretty good," said Kovalainen. "We'd already done some good work in Woking preparing for this circuit, so we had a good balance right from the start this morning. However, we had a brake issue during first practice which we couldn't sort out during the session.

"This afternoon, we got it sorted and were able to improve considerably, with both tyres working well. The circuit is cool - it's very smooth with good grip and the kerbs are nice. Turns Two and Three are not easy flat, but, with the good balance of the car, they're fun.

"On the straight, KERS gives us an additional benefit. We can use it for maximum performance and it's worth three-and-a-half to four tenths.

"The light is no problem with our slightly tinted tear-off visors, which we could remove once the sun had set."

Hamilton, who had been quickest in the morning, was left confident McLaren will be strong this weekend.

The former world champion also praised the Abu Dhabi authorities for the work they have done with the circuit.

"It looks like we might be quite competitive here - our long runs appear to be good, the car feels great and the track is great - it's quite interesting coming from daylight into nighttime, you don't notice the difference through the twilight," Hamilton said.

"They've done an incredible job here. It's a really nice circuit to drive - there are a lot of technical corners, where braking stability is important. It's a great track and I really enjoy driving it. The only bit I don't like is the tunnel - but it's a
challenge!

"We'll have to see what happens tomorrow, because the track conditions are always changing, but we feel quite comfortable with the pace we have. Our car seems to behave quite well over the kerbs, we've got the balance feeling quite good today.

"Our car is probably driving better than it has all year - it's just been getting better and better. In a way, it's been an excellent year: it's a bit like a race when you start from the back of the field and fight back to the front - that's what our season has been like.

"And I'm extremely proud of everyone in our team, they've done a fantastic job all year and I'd like to finish on a high for all of them."

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