Hamilton tops times in Abu Dhabiposted in F121 | 11 | 2014

    LEWIS HAMILTON ESTABLISHED himself again as the man to beat when he topped the opening two free practice sessions ahead of Sunday's Formula One title showdown in Abu Dhabi.

    Fastest in the morning session, the world championship leader again outpaced his Mercedes GP team-mate, and the the only man who can deny him a second title, Nico Rosberg.

    Though the German was quickest in the opening part of the session on the slower soft-compound Pirellis, Hamilton seized the initiative when the field switched to the super-softs. Hamilton finished the day with a best time of 1min 42.113secs, 83 thousandths of a second faster than his Mercedes team-mate.

    Hamilton, who leads Rosberg by 17 points, knows if Rosberg wins Sunday's race, he must finish no lower than second to clinch the title.

    Interestingly, as both pushed themselves and their cars to the limit, Hamilton and Rosberg ad very brief visits to the run-off during the session.

    Not surprisingly though, both Merc drivers were a league ahead of the rest of the field on pace. Third-fastest was the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen, 0.782s behind Hamilton, with the Red Bull of Ferrari-bound Sebastian Vettel fourth.

    Behind them, Valtteri Bottas (Williams, Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Jenson Button (McLaren), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Felipe Massa (Williams) completed the top 10.

    It was isappointing session overall for Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso being forced to stop after two laps with a suspected engine problem.

    Related: Ferrari confirms Vettel for 2015

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    Jim McGill

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