Nico Rosberg closed to within a tenth of a second of title rival Lewis Hamilton in second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as the Briton continued to set the pace at Yas Marina Circuit.
In opening practice Hamilton outpaced Rosberg by more than three tenths but in the early evening session, on ultrasoft tyres, the championship leader found more pace and ended the 90 minutes just 0.079s behind his team-mate with a lap of 1:40.940.
Sebastian Vettel was third quickest for Ferrari and after being 1.1s behind Hamilton in the early afternoon session, the German closed the gap to 0.269 on the purple-banded softest compound on offer this weekend. Vettel’s session wasn’t without trouble, however, and his was forced to stop with a suspected gearbox issue.
The four-time champion’s performance overhauled a significant deficit to Red Bull Racing, which had enjoyed ‘best of the rest’ status in the opening session. In the evening, Max Verstappen was the quicker of the two Red Bulls, edging team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by just one thousandth of a second. Verstappen, though, was 0.259 behind Vettel. The Red Bulls managed to split the Ferraris, with Kimi Raikkonen finishing in sixth place with a time of 1:41.464.
After Felipe Massa finished ninth in the first session Williams, team-mate Valterri Bottas boosted the Grove team up the order by claiming seventh in the evening, though the Finn was just eight hundredths of a second clear of Force India’s Sergio Perez. Nico Hulkenberg in the second Force India took eighth place ahead of Massa who rounded out the top 10.
McLaren improved in the second session, too, with Fernando Alonso jumping to P11 from P18 and Jenson Button recovering from a troubled opening session in which he posted just 10 laps and finished 20 to take P12.
Toro Rosso, though, had a troubled evening with Daniil Kvyat suffering a second puncture (the first came in the opening session). The failure caused him to spin off at high speed and though he avoided a big accident, he limped back to the pits where checks were undertaken. Neither he nor team-mate Carlos Sainz appeared on track again during the session.
2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:40.861 36
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:40.940 38
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:41.130 31
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:41.389 24
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:41.390 33
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:41.464 34
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:41.959 35
8 Sergio Perez Force India 1:42.041 35
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:42.264 36
10 Felipe Massa Williams 1:42.268 36
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:42.366 33
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:42.823 24
13 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:43.012 35
14 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:43.108 17
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:43.272 33
16 Esteban Ocon Manor 1:43.600 35
17 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:43.754 33
18 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:43.903 36
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:44.045 34
20 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:44.117 25
21 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:44.478 5
22 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:45.948 4