Red Bull lead the way in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi GP FP1 analysis

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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.

CarDriverCarBest lapGapLapAt timeLaps
15Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’42.760167118
22Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’43.3690.609118516
31Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’43.7851.025146619
46Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’43.8401.08098719
511Robert KubicaRenault1’44.0801.320107019
68Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’44.1211.36199217
73Michael SchumacherMercedes1’44.1991.439138919
823Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’44.6041.844126718
94Nico RosbergMercedes1’44.7181.95876419
1022Nick HeidfeldSauber-Ferrari1’44.7371.977108019
117Felipe MassaFerrari1’45.1602.40076818
1212Vitaly PetrovRenault1’45.4452.685128521
139Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’45.4742.714127914
1414Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’45.5522.79288320
1515Vitantonio LiuzziForce India-Mercedes1’45.5852.825138914
1617Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’46.0033.24396920
1710Nico HulkenbergWilliams-Cosworth1’46.6443.884176719
1816Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’47.1054.34597522
1924Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’48.4505.690136719
2018Jarno TrulliLotus-Cosworth1’48.4725.71288617
2125Lucas di GrassiVirgin-Cosworth1’49.3756.61586513
2221Bruno SennaHRT-Cosworth1’49.5906.830128518
2320Christian KlienHRT-Cosworth1’50.2747.514129017
2419Fairuz FauzyLotus-Cosworth1’51.7058.94567318

Ultimate laps

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

CarDriverCarUltimate lapGapDeficit to best
15Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’42.7600.000
22Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’43.1920.4320.177
31Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’43.5940.8340.191
411Robert KubicaRenault1’43.8171.0570.263
56Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’43.8401.0800.000
63Michael SchumacherMercedes1’44.0241.2640.175
78Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’44.0441.2840.077
84Nico RosbergMercedes1’44.2451.4850.473
923Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’44.5031.7430.101
1022Nick HeidfeldSauber-Ferrari1’44.6731.9130.064
117Felipe MassaFerrari1’45.0442.2840.116
1212Vitaly PetrovRenault1’45.2562.4960.189
139Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’45.3582.5980.116
1414Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’45.4812.7210.071
1515Vitantonio LiuzziForce India-Mercedes1’45.5852.8250.000
1617Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’45.9993.2390.004
1710Nico HulkenbergWilliams-Cosworth1’46.6373.8770.007
1816Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’46.9974.2370.108
1918Jarno TrulliLotus-Cosworth1’48.3105.5500.162
2024Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’48.4035.6430.047
2125Lucas di GrassiVirgin-Cosworth1’49.3756.6150.000
2221Bruno SennaHRT-Cosworth1’49.5846.8240.006
2320Christian KlienHRT-Cosworth1’49.8687.1080.406
2419Fairuz FauzyLotus-Cosworth1’51.1718.4110.534

2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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    Image © Red Bull/Getty images

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    14 comments on “Red Bull lead the way in Abu Dhabi”

    1. 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.

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

      2. 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.

      3. do you still have Darrell Eastlake in the broadcasting crew?

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

        2. 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.

      1. 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. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

      3. I think ALO will qualify fifth.

    4. Not best news for Fernando.

      1. Its just free practice. he can be calm till q

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