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Fri: Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull

Lewis Hamilton won the latest Mercedes battle as he edged Nico Rosberg by 0.083s in Friday’s practice in Abu Dhabi. Kevin Magnussen was third…

Mercedes:
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been a good Friday. We’ve run the same programme as we run every race weekend but this time we had the whole of both sessions to work with the tyres, look at long runs, analyse setup and the countless other things you need to assess in practice which was great. We made good steps forward with the setup but, as always, there is still more time to be found. We’ll keep chipping away at it and look to improve in every area possible but the car feels great – the best I’ve ever driven here without doubt. The team have done an amazing job. Coming into the weekend I was already excited and couldn’t wait to get out on track. When you know you have a package as competitive as ours it’s like being a kid at Christmas. I don’t feel any particular pressure this weekend. I’ll just drive the way I always drive and what will be, will be. So far it’s all moving in the right direction so I just have to keep working away at it.”

Nico Rosberg: “It’s been a good day today but I really haven’t got my best lap together yet, so there is still a lot of work to do over the rest of the weekend. In general the car felt great out there today. I just need to fine-tune it so that the set-up is exactly to my liking, then go for it and get the job done. This track really is amazing. It’s always a highlight when darkness falls and the lights come up – just spectacular! It will be a great show here, so I hope the fans at the circuit and everyone watching at home enjoy it.”

McLaren:
Kevin Magnussen: “It hasn’t been a bad day, all in all. I tried out our new front wing during both today’s sessions, and it felt different, which is good. Fortunately, we managed to get a lot of testing of it done, and we learned some interesting things about it, so that’s good too. It – our new front wing – follows a very different philosophy from our regular front wing, and I think today’s running has given us a positive direction for the future. Looking forwards to the race, the Option [tyre] has shown itself to be extremely soft; it needs to be looked after in order to last a stint. And, in terms of degradation, there’s quite a big difference between the two compounds. Although I ended up in P3 today, it’s possible that we may not be quite able to fight for the second row tomorrow. All year we’ve tended to look stronger on Friday than we do on Saturday. Some of the other teams seem to be able to find a bit of extra pace overnight – and I guess that may happen again here. Even so, we’ll be giving it our very best shot, so let’s see how it pans out. The car feels okay, and tomorrow is when its speed will really count.”

Jenson Button: “This afternoon we had an issue with the rear suspension, then a hydraulic problem ahead of FP2. I also had a problem with something inside the cockpit, which meant I had to climb out then climb in again, so I suppose you’d have to say it’s been quite a busy day. Because of all that additional work, we haven’t really established a good set-up foundation – but then that’s a natural consequence whenever you find yourselves having to right so many things that have gone wrong. Over one lap, the car looks pretty good – but whether it’ll be the same tomorrow, I don’t know. We need to do a bit more work to get a proper idea of how the tyres will behave across a long run. So we’ve got a lot to do overnight, but, hopefully, we can put the car right for tomorrow, and then we’ll see where we are.”

Red Bull:
Sebastian Vettel: “I think we have improved the car today, but we can still improve more. The super soft tyre seems pretty good for one lap, but I don’t think they lasted very long, for everyone, and then we focused mainly on the harder compound. McLaren has made a step forward the last couple of races and the nature of the track here maybe suits them a bit better than other tracks, but it’s Friday so I guess we will find out tomorrow. I don’t really want to interfere with Mercedes in the race. It would be nice to race them and beat them, but I think realistically they are a bit far away. I want to get everything out of myself and the car and make sure I finish fourth in the Championship.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “Nice and warm today! We got all the laps in, which was important and we got to run both compounds on the long runs, so I think we achieved all we could in terms of a run plan. Mercedes are … yeah I won’t even mention them! But anyway, they’re fighting for the title so we’ll let them go, but as for the rest it looks pretty tight as always for third place. We’ll definitely try and do something (with strategy). Anything can happen and it’s the final race, so hopefully the strategy can work to our advantage someway. Sebastian looked competitive today and hopefully we’re fighting for that spot on the podium, it would be nice to have a battle with him and end the season like that, it could be a good farewell for him and the team.”

Related Link
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