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MCLARENS SET THE PACE.

Abu Dhabi McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton topped a practice session each ahead of today's qualifying for the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel and former champion Fernando Alonso spun off at the same spot during the second session.

It was a pleasing display by the McLarens as both Button and Hamilton are in with a chance of finishing second in the drivers' championship and will want to deny Vettel a hat-trick of Abu Dhabi victories.

Second practice started in daylight and ended under the lights as darkness enveloped the magnificent Yas Marina Circuit.

Hamilton, the 2008 champion, clocked 1:39.586 seconds to put him 0.199 ahead of Button, 0.385 ahead of Alonso and 0.394 in front of Felipe Massa. Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Vettel followed.

Unhurt

Both Vettel and Alonso escaped unhurt after spinning at the first corner, with the champion able to rejoin the action with eight minutes left. Alonso's car could not be recovered in time.

During first practice, Button's lap time of 1:40.263 bettered Webber by just over a tenth of a second, with Hamilton registering the third-fastest lap ahead of Vettel. Sandwiched between Button (240 points) and Hamilton (202) are Alonso (227) and Webber (221) in the battle for second place.

Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean, Red Bull Junior driver Jean-Eric Vergne and Canadian Robert Wickens all got a taste of Formula One action in the first practice session as a lively large crowd watched the action.

Second practice

Top five drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren 1:39.586, 2. Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren 1:39.785, 3. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 1:39.971, 4. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 1:39.980, 5. Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull 1:40.104.

standings

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Nov 12, 2011
Words:318
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