Red Bull lead the way in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi GP FP1 analysis

Red Bull showed their usual healthy performance advantage in first practice in Abu Dhabi.

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Tick/untick drivers? names to show their laps, click and drag to zoom

The Yas Marina track produced a genuine surprise ahead of the first practice session – a wet, or at least slightly damp, track.

With high ambient temperatures the track surface dried quickly but it was enough to keep the drivers in their garages for the first half of the session as you can see on the interactive graph above (the few dots that do appear on the left-hand side are drivers who did two consecutive installation laps, not full timed laps).

In the second half of the session the track surface improved rapidly. Not just at the beginning as the last of the surface water was scrubbed off, but also towards the end as the rubber build-up increased.

The fastest times indicate Red Bull have a similar performance advantage over McLaren to what they had at Interlagos, with Ferrari playing their usual Friday waiting game.

As usual we can only guess at their fuel loads but note that both Red Bull drivers did perfect laps (see the ultimate laps list below) whereas their rivals were a couple of tenths away from their potential

Earlier on in the session we saw the McLarens and Red Bulls trading reasonably close times. McLaren have brought a new rear wing for this weekend’s race and if it turns out they have closed the gap to Red Bull the implications on the championship showdown could be fascinating.

However all the running in this session was done on the medium (prime) tyres and, as we saw at Interlagos and Singapore, although McLaren got good pace from them at first, it dropped off after a dozen laps or so.

In the next session we should the drivers using the super-soft (option) tyres which should give us a truer picture of their qualifying potential.

Car Driver Car Best lap Gap Lap At time Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’42.760 16 71 18
2 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’43.369 0.609 11 85 16
3 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’43.785 1.025 14 66 19
4 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’43.840 1.080 9 87 19
5 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’44.080 1.320 10 70 19
6 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’44.121 1.361 9 92 17
7 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’44.199 1.439 13 89 19
8 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’44.604 1.844 12 67 18
9 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’44.718 1.958 7 64 19
10 22 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’44.737 1.977 10 80 19
11 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’45.160 2.400 7 68 18
12 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’45.445 2.685 12 85 21
13 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’45.474 2.714 12 79 14
14 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’45.552 2.792 8 83 20
15 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’45.585 2.825 13 89 14
16 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’46.003 3.243 9 69 20
17 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’46.644 3.884 17 67 19
18 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’47.105 4.345 9 75 22
19 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’48.450 5.690 13 67 19
20 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’48.472 5.712 8 86 17
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’49.375 6.615 8 65 13
22 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’49.590 6.830 12 85 18
23 20 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1’50.274 7.514 12 90 17
24 19 Fairuz Fauzy Lotus-Cosworth 1’51.705 8.945 6 73 18

Ultimate laps

An ultimate lap is a driver’s best three sector times added together.

Car Driver Car Ultimate lap Gap Deficit to best
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’42.760 0.000
2 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’43.192 0.432 0.177
3 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’43.594 0.834 0.191
4 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’43.817 1.057 0.263
5 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’43.840 1.080 0.000
6 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’44.024 1.264 0.175
7 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’44.044 1.284 0.077
8 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’44.245 1.485 0.473
9 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’44.503 1.743 0.101
10 22 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’44.673 1.913 0.064
11 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’45.044 2.284 0.116
12 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’45.256 2.496 0.189
13 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’45.358 2.598 0.116
14 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’45.481 2.721 0.071
15 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’45.585 2.825 0.000
16 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’45.999 3.239 0.004
17 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’46.637 3.877 0.007
18 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’46.997 4.237 0.108
19 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’48.310 5.550 0.162
20 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’48.403 5.643 0.047
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’49.375 6.615 0.000
22 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’49.584 6.824 0.006
23 20 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1’49.868 7.108 0.406
24 19 Fairuz Fauzy Lotus-Cosworth 1’51.171 8.411 0.534

2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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14 comments on Red Bull lead the way in Abu Dhabi

  1. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 12th November 2010, 12:34

    Oh, God. I’m watching the coverage of practice on Sports Tonight (Australian sports news bulletin) and they’re really making things out to be dramatic. Apparently Webber was “incredibly disappointed” with fourth, and his team “immediately went in search of answers”. The commentators ignore the fact that FP1 is very rarey indicative of actual performance except in the most general sense. Then they go on to mention this in an obscure way that implies Alonso will get better, but Webber has to push an elephant up the stairs.

    It’s so bad it’s good.

    • Alex Bkk said on 12th November 2010, 12:42

      I’m not in Australia so I can’t comment on Oz TV. But your right in that Free Practice 1 means almost nothing.

    • I am in OZ and I think its pathetic at the crap we have to listen too.

      They piggy back the feed from BBC for the race itself, why not just leave the broadcasting to the pro’s instead of having to listen to clowns who don’t know a front wing from a barge board.

    • do you still have Darrell Eastlake in the broadcasting crew?

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 12th November 2010, 14:54

        Oh, God, no. He got dropped years ago. In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s been retired for a while now.

      • plushpile said on 12th November 2010, 22:27

        I miss Darrell Eastlake, he was awesome!

        He knew less than nothing, but his excited commentator voice is better than hillarious. You should hear him commentate the swimming

  2. maybe mclaren could challenge the podium this weekend, but the managament of the tyres is not good enough since the EDB.

    • All of McLaren’s woes seemed to be down to the EBD. Maybe they should take it off?

      FP1 is all about finding a good configuration for your car i.e. making sure that gear ratios etc are optimized. Performance testing comes later, which is bourne out by the fact that they are still way off last years fastest lap times.

  3. Todfod (@todfod) said on 12th November 2010, 12:44

    I hope Ferrari are sandbagging. I still do not think they will be as quick as the Red Bulls, but a RB front row followed by Lewis could be a problem for Fernando. Felipe seems to be off the pace as usual… expecting anything from him is asking for too much.

    • They’re always slow in the early practice sessions plus Fernando’s on an old engine.

      It is the first time Felipe’s ever driven the track so hopefully he’ll get quicker.

    • Alex Bkk said on 12th November 2010, 13:16

      Vettel is just quick ther eis no getting around that.

      But VXR put it nicely.

      FP1 is all about finding a good configuration for your car i.e. making sure that gear ratios etc are optimized. Performance testing comes later, which is bourne out by the fact that they are still way off last years fastest lap times.

    • I think ALO will qualify fifth.

  4. Not best news for Fernando.

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