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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest time in the second practice session of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday.
In cooler evening temperatures, the German clocked a best lap of 1 minute, 41.335 seconds to finish 0.155 ahead of Red Bull teammate Mark Webber and 0.355 clear of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.
Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen was fourth quickest after narrowly avoiding a crash.
The third practice session is Saturday afternoon before qualifying in the evening. Vettel, who clinched the title at the Indian GP last weekend, has taken pole position in four of the past five races.
Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was fastest in the first practice but the Frenchman struggled with a brake problem in the second and finished 12th.
Grosjean has finished third in each of his past three races and earlier Friday clocked a best lap of 1:44.241 seconds in hot temperatures to finish .192 seconds ahead of Hamilton — who won the race two years ago and has taken pole position twice — and 0.258 clear of Vettel.
But in the second run, Grosjean yelled over the race radio that there was a problem with his front brakes. Although he came back out later in the session, it was a short stint and he had to go back to the pits.
Abu Dhabi is the only race of the year that starts in the late afternoon and ends in the evening. Because qualifying and the race itself are held at twilight, when the track is considerably cooler at sunset, little useful data could be gained from the first practice.
About midway through the first run, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg locked his front left tire as he broke heavily coming into a chicane and almost slid off the track before regaining control. He had further trouble in the second run, locking his brakes into turn 17.
The Abu Dhabi track has never been much to Ferrari's liking. It was a poor first run for both drivers, with former champion Fernando Alonso in 12th and Felipe Massa in 17th. They fared a bit better in the second session, with Alonso in eighth and Massa 10th.
Nearing the end, Raikkonen almost crashed into Valtteri Bottas as the Williams driver broke late coming into a turn and his car veered left. Then, with a few minutes remaining, Raikkonen slid across the track after locking his brakes on turn 17.