Hamilton fastest of flying Mercedes pair

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix first practice

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Lewis Hamilton was the quickest of the two championship contenders as Mercedes were emphatically fastest in the first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg began his weekend a tenth of a second off his team mate as the W05s were the only cars to set sub-1’44s lap at the Yas Marina circuit. Everyone else was in the 1’45s – or slower.

They were led by Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, which was 1.7 seconds slower than Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel was next despite being heard several times on the radio complaining about problems with his car’s downshifts.

As usual the Williams pair were not near the top of the times sheets in the first practice session. Both cars experienced near-simultaneous bodywork failures during the first half hour which curtailed their involvement in practice. The right-hand side pod from Valtteri Bottas’s car came off on the approach to turn 11, and Felipe Massa headed for the pits at the same time having noticed his was also working loose.

Both drivers were able to rejoin the session, but Jenson Button was more seriously inconvenienced by a problem on his McLaren, covering just eight laps.

Debutant Will Stevens also missed most of the first hour after a problem on his Caterham, but was able to get a run in at the end of the session. Esteban Ocon and Adderly Fong had less trouble their first practice runs for Lotus and Sauber respectively.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’43.47632
26Nico RosbergMercedes1’43.6090.13331
314Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’45.1841.70822
41Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’45.3341.85830
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’45.3611.88523
625Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Renault1’45.7182.24217
726Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault1’45.8352.35932
877Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’45.9132.4378
911Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’45.9832.50723
1027Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’46.0302.55424
1120Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1’46.0492.57323
127Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’46.1312.65523
1319Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’46.5493.0737
1421Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1’46.5563.08028
1513Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault1’46.7113.23531
1631Esteban OconLotus-Renault1’47.0663.59029
1722Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’47.2353.7598
1810Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault1’47.9714.49524
1937Adderly FongSauber-Ferrari1’48.2694.79325
2046Will StevensCaterham-Renault1’50.6847.20814

Image © Mercedes/Hoch Zwei

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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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39 comments on “Hamilton fastest of flying Mercedes pair”

  1. Perfect start for Mercedes. The gulf behind them (with Williams not running) is huge.

    1. ha, i read that as “The guff behind them”

    2. @f1bobby In some respects it isn’t ‘perfect’ for Rosberg as he needs someone to challenge Hamilton if he is to have any chance of taking the title. It’s a strange situation when having a strongly dominant car might actually hinder your chance of a WDC.

      1. “It’s a strange situation when having a strongly dominant car might actually hinder your chance of a WDC.”

        @jerseyf1 It is indeed but I think other factors, such as not winning enough prior races is more influential here…

      2. I thought it had been happening all year to Hamilton. 10 wins.

  2. Must say I’m loving the improvement Toro Rosso has been showing of late. Are we starting to see the work of James Key come to life?

    1. Have we uncovered Torro Rosso’s fan?

    2. @funkyf1, I agree. It’s really refreshing to see Torro Rosso actually being a decent car for younsters to show-off their talent. Although they still lack some race pace, atleast they are getting quicker and more reliable. Given the (I assume) limited budget, Key and his team are doing a great job.

      Back on topic: damn those Mercs are fast!

    3. @funkyf1 James Key has been at Torro Rosso since Sept 2012… What has he been doing for the past two years if he is just ‘coming to life’?!

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        21st November 2014, 11:18

        @tonyyeb – he joined at the back end of the 2012 season. The 2013 car would have already been heavily developed by this point and any ideas he may have had would have had to fit in with the existing plans for 2013.

        2014 was the first ‘blank canvas’ season that he has had at Toro Rosso.

        1. @petebaldwin So we should have seen his work ‘coming to life’ in March 2014, not the last race of the season.

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            21st November 2014, 11:26

            @tonyyeb – In theory yes but they were obviously not helped by the Renault PU not allowing them to do much meaningful running in pre-season.

            I suppose at least this shows that they now understand the car and how to improve it. Most of next year’s cars will be a progression of this year’s as opposed to a brand new design so it suggests Toro Rosso should be in good shape next year.

      2. @tonyyep I’m with @petebaldwin on this one. His first opportunity to showcase his own works would of been this year. As Pete stated there was bugger all he could achieve in pre season testing and we all know how the other Renault PU’s have performed this year (special mention to Lotus). Toro Rosso are no Red Bull, I’m sure they have half the funding and personnel. James is no slouch and talents like Kyvat are showing that the chassis he has designed leans of his knowledge.

  3. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    21st November 2014, 10:58

    Mercedes first, daylight second, and then everybody else.

    1. maybe the others were testing the slow zones during the whole session!

  4. Come race day and not even daylight will be able to keep up :)

    1. Ha! That’s quite clever what you did there. +1 :)

  5. After seeing this results I wonder. Are Ferrari and Renault sure about that engine development thing? I mean can you imagine what could Mercedes do without engine development freeze?! I know that it is only FP1 but still 1.7 seconds?!

  6. Pretty much confirms that Mercedes have a big advantage over the field, even with Williams not running properly they are normally a bit ahead of Ferrari but not 1.5 seconds – That gap will shrink I’m sure but it’s still going to be pretty big.

    Great news for Hamilton as it looks very unlikely there will be outside intervention in the fight for the title now – It is going to take a race ending reliability issue, a race ending mistake or something underhand from Rosberg to stop him winning the title now in my opinion, all of which are possible.

    If Nico is smart he will be aiming for P2 not P1. If he starts P1 then it is completely out of his hands he is just hoping Lewis has bad luck that gifts him the championship, from P2 he can try and force something to happen whether its trying to pressure Lewis into a serious error, forcing him to push his car to the point he has some sort of reliability problem or something more serious like a Spa #2.

    I am just hoping for a normal boring Abu Dhabi grand prix personally.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      21st November 2014, 11:22

      That was my thinking – if Lewis is in front, he’ll fight for the win whereas if he’s in 2nd, I think he’ll let Nico have the race and will manage the car to the flag.

      1. I think Lewis will be going for the win regardless even though he doesn’t have to, that again could work in favour of Nico if he is overly aggressive with any defending but I think he has more things he can influence from P2 than P1.

  7. So with this pace shown today by the Mercedes team, is anybody still in doubt that Lewis is the 2014 WDC even sticking it in second place at least?

    1. I have doubts.

      I hope your prediction is true that is what I want to happen and in my opinion on the balance of the season what should happen but I don’t trust Nico to race cleanly, he is not above trying dirty tricks to try and win.

      There will be banned engine modes and all sorts being used by both of them out there on Sunday though you can guarantee that.

      1. @Mathew Coyne Personally I think NR IS above trying ‘dirty tricks’. Especially for this race. I don’t believe he would want to win that way.

        Of course the comeback to that remark is Monaco and Spa, but we don’t know for a fact that he did anything intentional at Monaco…certainly the stewards didn’t think so…other than perhaps being guilty of knowing that he had nothing to lose by going for it in that final minute of quali. At Spa he was guilty of standing his ground clumsily, but I don’t believe for a second that he intentionally hit LH…intentionally stubborn yes, but intentionally hit him? Again, the stewards didn’t think so.

        I also think that NR took the booing he received to heart, because he is simply not that guy, nor has he had any reputation for this behavior in the past.

        I’ve been pulling for NR, but it’s not a passion for him like I have had with other drivers in the past. I think LH deserves the WDC and if NR wins it I hope it is only because LH made a mistake. Double points, or LH unreliability will not mean justice for LH. And certainly if in fact NR does something dirty I will be off him completely, but I’d be really surprised…and utterly disappointed. As it stands I’ve got high hopes that NR will have learned a ton in his first year of having WDC capable equipment, and will have an answer to LH next year.

        1. So what about Bahrain? All this underhand tactics by Nico didn’t start at Monaco, but rather Bahrain.

          It was he who used a banned engine mode and then later complained that lewis used it in Spain to defend his position, but failed to tell everyone that it was the first to do that.

          1. My understanding is that both drivers did this until they were told not to and then LH did it again such that he apologized after the fact. If I’m wrong cronologically the point is still that neither driver was innocent of cranking their own boost early in the season. It hasn’t been an issue since. I consider that stage of the season a point where the drivers and the team were feeling out how this rivalry would work and how to undergo the difficult task of managing two roosters on the team. Thank goodness they have managed it fairly well and we have come down to a final race. I hope and expect the bumps in the road of managing these two drivers does not sway them from doing it again next year. Ordering there to be one rooster only makes the rooster and the team manager’s life easier but destroys the whole concept for the fans of racing in the pinnacle of racing.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      21st November 2014, 11:33

      Knowing English sport in general, I would say that this is far from over! We seem to have a knack of making everything harder for ourselves!

      Lewis won the WDC previously but only on the last corner when it looked as though all was lost.

      England won the rugby world cup but only in the last second by a drop goal when it looked as though all was lost.

      England won the football world cup but only in extra time having let the lead slip in the final minute fo normal time.

      Even when Mansell won comfortably in 1992, he failed to finish 3 of the last 4 races! It was just lucky he was already far enough ahead that it didn’t matter…

  8. 1 Year and the gap has not been reduced. I expect that in the race, the mercs will finish ahead by between 15 to 20 seconds as well. Its more or less where they have been all year really on most if not every track we have been too.

  9. Adderly Fong : making Guitterez look brilliant

    Occon did good. .3 of Maldonado is I think really something one can be proud about (despite what people might think of the man, he is a fast benchmark).

  10. Am I the only person who’s turned off by the gap between Merc and the other teams?

    1. As long as they both fight tooth and nail together, I’m ok with it.

    2. @wsrgo New to F1?

      Of course I know you aren’t. So why would you appear to be surprised by a teams dominance? F1 has rarely been any different – throughout its history. There is usually one team dominant.

      But for the 1st time in many seasons we have an open battle for the title with no team orders.

      1. @tango But wouldn’t it have been better for other people to at least have a sniffing chance sometimes? In mid-season, that was the case, but apart from some other isolated examples, it’s been too easy for Merc. By Merc’s pace this weekend, it’s clear than unless something disastrous happens, Hamilton won’t finish lower than second. Rather spoils the intrigue, don’t you think?

        1. Sorry I meant to send that to @psynrg

    3. There’s more to motorsport than just the battle for the win ;)

    4. I’m sure many would have said the same during the Red Bull years (except for 2012, which is more the exception than the rule) and the Ferrari years.

      Apart from the Mercedes duo, I think the battle to keep an eye on will be between Bottas, Alonso, and Vettel, who have three points separating them. Hopefully this won’t be another fuel/tyre limited race and we can see these guys really push throughout the race.

      1. @steevkay There was never such a huge gap over a sustainable period in the Red Bull and Ferrari years. Half a second? Yes, regularly. But as far as I remember, there was only one race in the Red Bull era when they were over 1.5 seconds quicker than the field, that was Hungary 2010. That was one race in a four year period. Mercedes have come close to that several times, and breached that a few times in a single year.

  11. Good onya Stevo, within 107%. Legend!

    1. By a mere 35 hundredths of a second…

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