Giedo van der Garde won the first battle for dominance in this morning’s practice session in Abu Dhabi, coming out on top in the last lap of a fierce skirmish on the timing screens ahead of Oliver Turvey and David Valsecchi. The Dutchman’s best time of 1:50.600 gave him this morning’s bragging rights by two tenths from his rivals in warm, sunny conditions as the drivers reacquainted themselves with the modern circuit. With the F1 teams yet to arrive at the circuit ahead of the session there was no rubber on the track to give the drivers a hand, and the early running was tempered by the need to avoid the walls at all costs ahead of this afternoon’s qualifying session. Valsecchi, van der Garde and Sergio Perez set the early running as the laptimes steadily ticked down, along with the clock. It wasn’t until the field had changed to the second set of tyres that they started to push hard: champion elect Pastor Maldonado was having a torrid time as he looked in vain for grip, just managing to stay off the wall underneath the hotel. The same spot saw Marcus Ericsson spin into a stall with a few minutes remaining. But it was the last minute of the session that saw the most drama: Fabio Leimer set a stunning lap to take the top spot with a minute to go, with Perez crossing the line just behind him a mere tenth down and Turvey squeezing between them a few seconds later. After the chequered flag dropped Valsecchi looked to have done enough for P1 until van der Garde just pipped him, and Turvey was the last to cross the line and also squeeze past his teammate. A large rainstorm hit the circuit just after the teams returned to the pits, washing away all of the rubber: it promises to be a madcap qualifying session this afternoon.

Abu Dhabi – Practice Session  

  Driver  Team  Time  Laps 
1 Giedo van der Garde  Barwa Addax Team  01:50.6 12
2 Oliver Turvey  iSport International  01:50.9 13
3 Davide Valsecchi  iSport International  01:50.9 12
4 Sergio Perez  Barwa Addax Team  01:51.0 13
5 Fabio Leimer  Ocean Racing Technology  01:51.0 13
6 Jules Bianchi  ART Grand Prix  01:51.4 12
7 Luiz Razia  Rapax  01:51.6 13
8 Sam Bird  ART Grand Prix  01:51.6 14
9 Romain Grosjean  Dams  01:51.6 14
10 Michael Herck  DPR  01:51.7 11
11 Dani Clos  Racing Engineering  01:51.9 13
12 Max Chilton  Ocean Racing Technology  01:51.9 13
13 Rodolfo Gonzalez  Arden International  01:52.3 14
14 Adrian Zaugg  Trident Racing  01:52.4 12
15 Ho Pin Tung  Racing Engineering  01:52.6 13
16 Pastor Maldonado  Rapax  01:52.8 13
17 Marcus Ericsson  Super Nova Racing  01:52.8 8
18 Fabio Crestani  DPR  01:52.9 14
19 Brendon Hartley  Scuderia Coloni  01:52.9 14
20 James Jakes  Scuderia Coloni  01:53.1 13
21 Josef Kral  Super Nova Racing  01:53.1 14
22 Federico Leo  Trident Racing  01:54.0 14
23 Jerome d’Ambrosio  Dams  2
24 Charles Pic  Arden International  2