Hamilton edges out Rosberg to top second Abu Dhabi GP practice

Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton continued his impressive start to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend by topping second practice for Mercedes on Friday evening as Yas Marina.

Hamilton enters the final race of the season trailing Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 12 points at the top of the drivers’ championship.

Rosberg requires a top-three finish to clinch a maiden title, with Hamilton needing a drastic change in fortunes if he is to take a fourth crown.

After dominating first practice in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton continued to impress when the sun went down at Yas Marina by once again setting the fastest time in FP2.

A lap of 1:40.861 saw Hamilton finished 0.079 seconds clear of Rosberg at the top as Mercedes once again surged to a one-two finish.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished a further two-tenths of a second behind, but saw his session come to an early end after an issue forced him to stop beneath the Yas Viceroy hotel in the final sector.

Max Verstappen ended FP2 fourth for Red Bull ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, while Kimi Raikkonen was sixth in the second Ferrari.

Williams and Force India’s season-long battle continued in FP2 as Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez finished seventh and eighth, with teammates Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa rounding out the top 10.

Lewis Hamilton aims to match Michael Schumacher’s F1 win record

Lewis Hamilton Schumacher record
Mark Sutton - Pool/Getty Images
Leave a comment

SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton has set many Formula One marks over the years, but few are as significant as the Michael Schumacher record he can match Sunday at the Russian Grand Prix.

Victory for Hamilton at the Sochi Olympic Park would see him draw level with Schumacher at 91 career victories, more than any other driver in the 70-year history of F1.

It also would increase Hamilton’s commanding 55-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas in the championship standings, putting him closer to a seventh world championship, matching another Schumacher record.

YOU’RE INVITED: Bubba Wallace hopes to see Lewis Hamilton at Daytona

History is on the side of Hamilton, who won Sept. 13 at Mugello. He’s won four of the six Russian races so far, and all six were won by Mercedes drivers. His closest challenger is likely to be Bottas, who beat Hamilton in the 2017 edition of the Russian Grand Prix.

Elsewhere in the championship hunt, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s season has gone up in smoke since his Aug. 9 victory at Silverstone. An overheating engine forced the Dutch driver out of the Sept. 6 race at Monza and then a similar problem struck just before the start at Mugello. Verstappen was far slower off the line than the cars around him and was struck by Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo.

That leaves Verstappen 80 points off Hamilton in the standings and a 25-point deficit to Bottas.

If Hamilton does win to tie Schumachher at Sochi, more fans will see it in person than any other race in a 2020 season mostly run before empty grandstands because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Organizers say the race weekend is sold out but haven’t given final ticket sales figures.

Race promoter Alexei Titov previously told Russian state TV that the stands would be at 50 percent of their capacity, which equates to around 30,000 spectators.

That’s far more than the previous season high of 3,000 fans for the most recent race, the Tuscan Grand Prix at the Mugello circuit.

Unlike at the last two races in Italy, there will be a full entertainment program on offer for fans with concerts featuring some of Russia’s most popular musicians.

Russian organizers say they’re taking precautions to keep fans safe and will have medical staff posted at checkpoints around the venue, and that spectators will have their temperature measured on entry.