Hamilton pleased with Friday running, but Rosberg remains cautious

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F1 might have enjoyed a three-week break for summer, but at the front of the grid, not much appears to have changed as Mercedes once again dominated in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix today.

The Silver Arrows secured one-twos in both sessions on Friday at Spa, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg each enjoying one session at the top of the timesheets. In Hamilton’s eyes, it was a very good day of running.

“It’s great to be back in the car and it was feeling good out there today,” the Briton said. “The morning wasn’t as strong, but it definitely improved in the afternoon. As always, we still have work to do tonight, but overall today was okay.

“It stayed dry throughout both sessions but the forecast is wet for tomorrow, so it was important to maximize track time as this may be our last dry running before the race. We’ve seen rain so often here in the past and that can really mix things up, particularly when it’s wet in places and dry in others.”

However, Rosberg was more wary, believing that the chasing pack may have closed on Mercedes for this weekend’s race.

“It looks like we have the quickest car again, but it’s a bit different here than at some other tracks,” Rosberg said. “It seems that some of the other teams are closer and we need to work a bit on our speed down the straights.

“As normal, it will be a long night analyzing everything that we learned today to really nail it tomorrow.

Mercedes will be hoping to secure its seventh one-two finish of the season this weekend, and it looks set to do so given that the high-speed nature of the circuit will suit the strengths of the W05 car.

However, the intra-team battle is set to rage on following the team orders debate at the last race in Hungary, as both Hamilton and Rosberg vie for the 2014 drivers’ championship.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”