Hamilton quickest as brake problem delays Vettel

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix third practice

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McLaren headed the final practice session in Abu Dhabi with almost half a second in hand over Red Bull.

But Sebastian Vettel only managed a single flying lap after missing much of the 60 minutes due to a braking problem.

Lewis Hamilton set a string of laps and comfortably headed the times early in the session. As was the case on Friday, McLaren were comfortably quickest on medium tyres, Hamilton over a second quicker than the next non-McLaren.

That was Romain Grosjean’s Lotus, who was 1.113s slower than Hamilton but had visible damage on his front-right tyre from a lock-up when he was pushed back into the pits.

Vettel spent much of the session in the pits. After taking to the track for his first run he returned to the garage where the Red Bull mechanics went to work on his brakes.

Hamilton only managed to improve his time by 0.018s after switching to the soft tyres. He missed an opportunity to set another timed lap as the chequered flag came out before he could begin one. “I wish you’d told me earlier,” he said to his engineer.

Even so Hamilton ended up quickest ahead of his team mate. Vettel’s single flying lap was good enough to put him third ahead of team mate Mark Webber.

Nico Hulkenberg was fifth for Force India ahead of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado.

For the second day running Ferrari had broken the curfew as they worked on their car. Fernando Alonso ended the session in eighth place, one second slower than Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen and Paul di Resta completed the top ten.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
14Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’42.13018
23Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’42.4200.29017
31Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’42.6140.4847
42Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’42.7430.61318
512Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’42.7500.62019
610Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’43.0150.88518
718Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’43.0640.93419
85Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’43.1331.00315
99Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’43.1841.05422
1011Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’43.3381.20819
116Felipe MassaFerrari1’43.4801.35017
1215Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’43.5711.44120
138Nico RosbergMercedes1’43.5931.46320
147Michael SchumacherMercedes1’43.6351.50519
1514Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’44.0101.88022
1617Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’44.0251.89518
1719Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’44.0711.94119
1816Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’44.1492.01919
1920Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’45.3013.17122
2024Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’45.8793.74919
2125Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’46.0363.90619
2221Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’46.2614.13122
2322Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’46.5544.42420
2423Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’47.0324.90222

Combined practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2FP3Fri/Sat diffTotal laps
1Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’44.0501’41.7511’42.614+0.86364
2Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’43.2851’41.9191’42.130+0.21173
3Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’43.6181’42.4121’42.420+0.00872
4Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’44.5421’42.4661’42.743+0.27761
5Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’45.7431’42.5001’43.015+0.51572
6Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’45.4221’42.5321’43.184+0.65265
7Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’44.3661’42.5871’43.133+0.54667
8Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’45.5871’43.2551’42.750-0.50573
9Felipe MassaFerrari1’45.5671’42.8231’43.480+0.65774
10Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’45.1151’42.9981’43.064+0.06682
11Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’45.8111’43.1061’43.571+0.46578
12Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’43.1911’44.071+0.8853
13Nico RosbergMercedes1’45.1941’43.2001’43.593+0.39375
14Michael SchumacherMercedes1’44.6941’43.2671’43.635+0.36874
15Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’43.5781’43.338-0.2453
16Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’45.7221’43.6891’44.010+0.32174
17Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’46.7081’45.0731’44.025-1.04863
18Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’46.6491’44.2601’44.149-0.11170
19Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’45.2451’46.261+1.01658
20Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’47.4181’45.7821’45.301-0.48178
21Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1’45.34725
22Jules BianchiForce India-Mercedes1’45.76922
23Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’47.8911’46.5891’45.879-0.7176
24Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’46.6741’46.036-0.63841
25Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’48.3541’46.7071’46.554-0.15368
26Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’47.4061’47.032-0.37457
27Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth1’48.88722
28Ma Qing HuaHRT-Cosworth1’50.48720
9Giedo van der GardeCaterham-RenaultNo time3

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix articles

Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei

Author information

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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39 comments on “Hamilton quickest as brake problem delays Vettel”

  1. Alonso hoped unreliability from Red Bull but for sure it wouldn’t mean now :D

  2. clap, clap, clap, well done Ferrari, those updates and the double curfew braking are really paying off in this sensible part of the season!
    They are tottally lost…

    1. In the past, Ferrari have structured their practice programmes slightly differently to the other teams, focusing on one-lap pace before FP3 rather than during it so as to keep a few tenths of a second to themselves for qualifying.

      1. As it seems Ferrari will be fighting the Lotus, Maldonado and Hulkenberg instead of RB and Mclarens, just don´t understand, so much talk and so little results… quite the opposite in RB garage.

        1. You have no idea what Ferrari’s testing programme was, and nor do you know what they spent all their time working on during both curfew breaks, so how can you say with any certainty that they have failed simply because Alonso was slower than his rivals in a one-hour practice session?

          1. I think that Keith post answers to your question.

          2. It’s pretty evident PM and we shall see it in less than 2 hours time. Ferrari are clearly on the backfoot

          3. @pnunocosta

            I think that Keith post answers to your question.

            No, Keith posted a Twitter update from Ferrari’s official account. Which is never proof of anything, because Ferrari have a history – and indeed, something of a reputation – of never giving a straight answer, downplaying their advantages and overstating their shortcomings.

          4. “You have no idea what Ferraris testing program was” All night putting new parts on and the next night taking them off ?

    2. They’re expecting a “tough” qualifying:


      Sixth-fastest team in FP3 – not a good sign.

      1. That´s my point, Ferrari are admittedly developing the car to make it stronger in qualifying and turns out the opposite. This just shows that technically they are weak. They also may still have a few tenths in the bag but not by chance 1″.

        1. I think it’s better to wait for qualifying, before drawing conclusions.

          1. @andae23 – Precisely. The rules dictate that qualifying must take place in the same conditions as the race where possible. Rain, of course, can change this, but it’s the reason why qualifying and the race are held at the same time of day. With Abu Dhabi being a twilight race, qualifying takes place much later in the day when ambient conditions are cooler, and so too is the track surface.

  3. I don’t believe for a second that Red Bull are in any genuine trouble.

    1. @prisoner-monkeys Pace wise neither do I. That Vettel was able to lap within less than .5s on one lap after those problems is cause for concern for everyone else. Plus, Hamilton didn’t set the world on fire with those softs, albeit owing to a chequered flag.

      1. Still hope we will have some Vettel – Hamilton battle for pole. But for the race, can’t see anyone matching McLaren pace on medium. Even if they don’t improve on the softs, they are still as quick as anyone else such the margin is big on medium

      2. This is why I was just rolling my eyes, listening to the BBC team trying to ramp up tension over “will Vettel get out there or won’t he?!”. At this point in the season, with the Red Bull where it is, I don’t see that mattering too much.

  4. And the McLarens are a second faster than everyone else (barring maybe Vettels RBR) on the Medium tyre, despite the Red Bull being the best car, and far superior to the rest of the field.


    1. @xjr15jaaag
      That’s because they hit all the apexes, apparently!

  5. Abu Dhabi looks set for a thriller from the c’ships perspective :)

    1. Not sure if serious…

  6. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
    3rd November 2012, 11:17

    An interesting result. If their one-lap pace is this strong, I can actually see McLaren trying to qualify on medium tyres. They can do a longer first stint on a compound they know they have pace on, before switching over to the softs (seemingly their weakness) during the middle of the race, when they are less vulnerable to attacks from other drivers.

    1. @bobthevulcan

      I can actually see McLaren trying to qualify on medium tyres.

      But because of the ‘top ten tyre rule’, this would mean them starting the race on medium tyres that have already done half-a-dozen or so laps.

      Plus the soft tyres are faster for them, just not by very much, and they’re lasting pretty well.

      1. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
        3rd November 2012, 12:28

        McLaren’s medium-compound pace is comparable to other teams’ soft compound pace, and the mediums are more durable, so having a slightly worn set of them at the race start wouldn’t be that much of a disadvantage. Furthermore, Sauber have shown that fitting the “option” tyre near the end of the race can pay dividends in terms of making up track position (like Perez at Monza).

        1. @bobthevulcan, Might work if you had a straight-line speed advantage, otherwise the risk of being stuck behind a fast starting mid-field car/driver is too great.

  7. Ferrari have reportedly asked the FIA for clarification on Red Bull’s latest gizmo, a system that allows them to redistribute water and fuel throughout the car to change the weight distribution. Which might cause some headaches, because the weight distribution was standardised for all cars last year.

    Mind you, I’m expecting the outcome of this to be no different to the holes/slots debate from Monaco, the easy-adjust ride height in Canada, and the throttle mapping in Germany, and end with the FIA taking no further action against Red Bull except to ask them to remove the system because it hovers in a grey area between the letter and the spirit of the rules.

    1. Sorry, here is the proper URL for the article.

      1. @prisoner-monkeys oops, I think this one is wrong too.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys thanks. I heard the news but didn’t know detail. Is this system linked to Webber’s trouble in yesterday?

          1. I’ve no idea. Wasn’t really following it yesterday.

    2. Here they explain that Red Bull is allowed to do that because it prevents reliability issues. A team asked FIA if they could use the same system, but FIA didn’t allow them because their engine doesn’t have any reliability issues.

  8. Really disappointing from a championship perspective. Like someone said above, so much talk, so little action from the Ferrari garage. Two curfew breaks, more updates and yet another tweet declaring that it’ll be “a tough qualifying.”

    Nice one guys.

    On the other hand, nice to see the Mclarens up there. Hope they’re competitive this weekend.

    1. On the one hand, they did say they wouldn’t be able to make much progress in the one-week gap between India and Abu Dhabi. On the other hand, Lotus seem to have managed it.

  9. I dont see anyone coming close to Lewis in S3. He is mighty out there. Was a nice change to see RBR having issues with Seb’s car from a championship perspective.

    Ferrari are a disaster. Guess who might be regretting signing a contract till 2016!!

    An evening quali means cooler temperatures and will intensify quali between Lewis and Seb.

    On a final note, I enjoyed watching fps more in Abu Dhabi than in India or any other country. Scenic view matters!!

    1. Was a nice change to see RBR having issues with Seb’s car

      Because we haven’t seen that before this season. :P

    2. @neelv27 too bad the track doesnt live up to the ambience….Hope this race is more fun to watch

  10. Well we have seen it. Valencia, Monza fp3 and the race itself and kers issue for Mark in India. So, we can cross our fingers for an RBR reliability issue for Seb to spice up the championship as Ferrari on their own can’t beat Seb anymore and this weekend, Fernando has to finish ahead of Seb or else champagne corks will be popping out in cowboy style in Texas :p

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