Live updates and live video from the Abu Dhabi GP

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It was clear after a tense qualifying in Abu Dhabi yesterday that Mark Webber had not read the script. After dominating practice and currently enjoying a fine run of form (not to mention four world titles), Sebastian Vettel appeared to be a shoe-in for pole position at Yas Marina. However, with his last time on Saturday, Webber produced a near-perfect lap to score his second pole of the season whilst his teammate was forced to settle for second place.

All eyes will be on the front of the grid to see if Webber and Vettel can keep it clean at the front, but Mercedes are waiting in the wings in third and fourth place. However, both Lotus and Ferrari have work to do. The Italian team will start seventh and tenth on the grid with Massa ahead of Alonso, whilst Kimi Raikkonen was excluded from qualifying late last night after a technical irregularity on his Lotus E21 car. Nevertheless, it sets the scene for a fascinating race as night falls in Abu Dhabi.

As well as watching the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on NBCSN live from 7:30am ET, you can catch the live coverage via NBC Sports Live Extra on your phone or tablet.

Customers with participating cable, satellite and telco TV providers can access the free service, which provides streaming coverage of all live NBC Sports events on both NBC and NBCSN through NBCSports.com/LiveExtra and the NBC Sports Live Extra app for iOS and select Android devices (available for purchase at the App Store and Google Play).

Formula One races are part of the programming shown on NBC Sports Live Extra, which also features the rest of NBCSN’s live-event roster: The IZOD IndyCar Series, the National Hockey League, the English Premier League, Major League Soccer, horse racing’s Triple Crown, and more.

You can also follow the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live via the @F1onNBCSports Twitter account, which will be providing commentary throughout the race.

Finally, be sure to visit MotorSportsTalk throughout the weekend for all of the latest news and updates from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds