Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets earlier today at the Yas Marina Circuit, with teammate Nico Rosberg three-tenths behind.
Red Bull was again the Silver Arrow’s closest contenders, with Force India splitting the two Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
Early into the session, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat stopped on the run-off area of Turn 8 with a puncture on his left-rear tyre. This is not at all unusual for the team, as they have had similar problems in the past.
“We need to stop the car, stop the car on track,” came the call from the pitlane.
Vettel also reported “that Toro Rosso is going around and loosing bits,” probably hinting to bits of tyre debris left on the track following the puncture.
In the session, Jordan King drove for Manor in place of Esteban Ocon, and spun at Turn 5, as did Williams’ Felipe Massa and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
With 30 minutes to go, Haas’ Romain Grosjean went off the track at Turn 1, due to lack of front brakes.
This is not the first time the Frenchman has been hampered with brake problems, as throughout the season he has been in similar situations. It seems to be an issue with the team’s Brembo brakes, an issue that can be rectified in time for 2017.
Lewis Hamilton held off rival Nico Rosberg yet again, but this time by a mere tenth of a second, as the fight for the Championship comes down to this weekend.
Sebastian Vettel managed to get his Ferrari ahead of the Red Bull duo in this session, and was barely a quarter of a second off the pace of the Mercedes’.
It was revealed this session that cracked rims on Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso caused the tyre to fail, as it suffered a puncture on the left rear yet again, as he spun out between Turns 16 and 17. Neither he or his teammate Carlos Sainz went out again, as the team set about solving the issue.
A surprise came late in the session, as Ferrari did not complete a ultra-soft tyre run, despite the fact they have seven sets. However, there is still a final practice tomorrow for them to complete this run.
Sebastian Vettel also suffered a gearbox failure – his fourth this season. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen has also suffered two, making this a reoccurring problem in Ferrari in 2016.
The failure happened as the German was coming out of Turn 4, under acceleration. However, this may not be Vettel’s race gearbox, which would therefore mean that he would not need a new one, and not receive a grid penalty in return.
This echoes the Scuderia’s bout of bad luck this season, with no wins, and only a handful of podiums, with their last one being in Monza.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also had complaints – over the radio he reported: “I’m not speeding up out of corners, [the brakes are] more like a handbrake into corners.” He then pitted and did not return to the track for the remainder of the session.