YAS ISLAND, Abu Dhabi – Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Clive Mason/Getty Images Europe photo —
Nico Rosberg stayed the course on Friday at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit, looking strongly like a driver who can end the 2015 Formula One World Championship with his third consecutive victory.
While his Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Lewis Hamilton led the opening session, it was Rosberg who overhauled him and topped the combined timesheets with a lap of 1:41.983, edging Hamilton’s best time of 1:42.121.
The result makes the German the early favorite to capture Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (8 a.m. ET, NBCSN).
“It’s been a good start here in Abu Dhabi — but it will be a tough weekend for me due to the higher mileage on my engine,” Rosberg admitted. “After our problems at Monza, we have had to stretch the engine life more than we had planned over the 19 races, so I definitely have a small lack of power on the straights and therefore need to make up extra time in the corners.”
“It will be a big battle with Lewis here. He didn’t really bring together his quick laps, so it will be even closer tomorrow I’m sure. I’m looking forward to it and I definitely want to win this race and give the boys in the garage a reason to celebrate at the end of the season.”
Three drivers — representing three different teams — ended the session within three-quarters of a second of the Silver Arrows, meaning the battle for Sunday’s final trophy of the season is likely to be a hotly-contested one.
Topping the other contenders in third was Force India’s Sergio Perez at 1:42.610, a strong result for the young Mexican who continues to seek his first-career Grand Prix win. He was followed by the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo (1:42.647) and Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari (1:42.717), who rounded out the top five.
Hamilton’s top lap in session one was a 1:43.754, ahead of Rosberg (1:43.895), Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, the second Red Bull entry of Dani Kvyat and Vettel.
The three-time and reigning World Champion says that track position and tires will be keys to victory on Sunday.
“I didn’t get the best out of the tyres but they’re actually really strong here — especially the super softs,” Hamilton explained. “I made some changes to the car between the sessions and so far it’s felt relatively good. The long run pace doesn’t feel quite as strong so that’s something I need to work on. I’ll probably make some more tweaks tonight and hopefully tomorrow it will be better.”
“It’s very hard to overtake here, so of course it’s better to be up on pole. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to win from further back.”
Final practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place at 2 p.m. local time on Saturday, with qualifying to follow at 5 p.m.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 21-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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