Lewis Hamilton fastest in opening Abu Dhabi F1 practice

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Lewis Hamilton sent out an early warning shot to Formula 1 championship rival Nico Rosberg ahead of their title showdown by leading opening practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton enters the final race of the season trailing Rosberg by 12 points in the standings, meaning the odds are stacked against the Briton in his chase for a fourth world championship. A top-three finish will be enough to clinch Rosberg a maiden crown.

Hamilton calmed any early nerves he may have had heading into the weekend by topping first practice in Abu Dhabi, posting a fastest lap time of 1:42.869 at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Hamilton led from Rosberg early on, but was able to improve inside the final 30 minutes to eventually enjoy an advantage of 0.374 seconds over his teammate.

Despite being able to wrap up a one-two finish for Mercedes, Rosberg only narrowly edged out Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in P3, again suggesting that the Dutchman has the capability to play championship spoiler on Sunday.

Daniel Ricciardo backed up Verstappen’s pace in the second Red Bull, finishing fourth, while Sebastian Vettel finished over six-tenths of a second further back in P5 for Ferrari.

Sergio Perez led Force India’s charge in sixth, finishing ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Carlos Sainz Jr. and Felipe Massa followed in eighth and ninth, as Marcus Ericsson sprung a surprise by finishing 10th for Sauber.

The session was marked with a couple of incidents, the most notable involving Daniil Kvyat, who appeared to suffer a tire failure on his Toro Rosso in the first 30 minutes. Its severity meant that the Russian could not head back out in FP1.

Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean also hit trouble during the session, limiting both of their running, while Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon gave up their seats to reserve drivers Alfonso Celis Jr. and Jordan King at Force India and Manor respectively.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.