What the drivers are saying about the new Abu Dhabi circuit where McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton was quickest in the first practice while teammate Heikki Kovalainen topped the timesheets in the second practice.
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren: The circuit is cool – it's very smooth with good grip and the kerbs are nice. Turns Two and Three are not easy-flat, but, with the good balance of the car, they're fun. On the straight, KERS gives us an additional benefit. We can use it for maximum performance and it's worth three-and-a-half to four tenths. The light is no problem with our slightly tinted tear-off visors, which we could remove once the sun had set.
Sebastien Vettel, Red Bull: Abu Dhabi is a new circuit, so new conditions – including starting driving in the daylight and finishing the session at night, which is quite exciting. Obviously, the circuit was very green and slippery to begin with, but overall it's quite a thrill to drive, with some good corners. It's also pretty special to go under a hotel! Performance wise, we're looking quite good. We didn't know what to expect around here, but it seems as though we're quite competitive, although we will have to wait to see how competitive. Even though it's a new track, it was a normal Friday practice and we were testing which tire works best.
Jenson Button, Brawn: The Yas Marina circuit is certainly an interesting one. When you look at the layout, it doesn't seem that exciting but when you actually drive it, it's fantastic. The track has a bit of everything with high and low speed corners, positive and negative camber and the walls are pretty close to you most of the way round. We had a good first day of practice here with just a few balance issues to work on overnight.
Fernando Alonso, Renault: Today we experienced Yas Marina for the first time so we had to learn the circuit and work out the best way to set the car up. As we expected, the track was a bit dirty to begin with, but when more rubber was laid down I started to get a good feeling for the circuit and the car. We have a lot of information to look over tonight so that we can make some changes in the morning to find some more performance from the car before qualifying.
Nico Rosberg, Williams: I enjoyed driving the track for the first time today. It was dirty to begin with and then of course in the second session we were interested in the artificial lighting conditions in the dark and the effect on the tyres of the temperature dropping. Visibility-wise it was fine in the second practice session and again, the temperature change didn't seem to have too big an effect on us. The more unknown element is the choice of tire and it is hard to say which is better. In terms of set-up, we have definitely found a direction especially on the mechanical side. All in all, a good day which has given me confidence that we can score some points here this weekend.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber: The track offers everything you can ask for. The tarmac is good and the lay-out is quite good with the first sector having the fast corners, the second sector providing this endless straight and a possibility for overtaking, and the third one being rather narrow and windy, but flowing nicely. I'm not happy with the car's set-up and balance yet. This is especially for a single quick lap as on the long runs the lap times were improving. The visibility during sunset and twilight wasn't an issue today. I hope this doesn't change if we get more dust in the air. In respect of the total darkness and floodlighting, I have the feeling it was brighter in Singapore.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota: I must say that was an enjoyable day for me and it was interesting to drive on the new track for the first time. It was good fun and I am looking forward to racing here. They have done a great job with the facilities and the track is really well built, so I am impressed. The first laps were difficult because there was just no grip, but that is normal for a new circuit like this and as the day went on the situation improved. Driving during twilight was a new experience for me and the view does change a little, with some shadows, but generally it is similar to Singapore so it's not a problem. All in all, the car seemed competitive and well-balanced so if we can improve again tomorrow we can have another strong weekend.
Rubens Barrichello, Brawn: First of all, I'm really pleased with the new track here in Abu Dhabi. The venue looks sensational and it's quite challenging to drive which is makes it a lot more fun for the drivers. The car felt good here over the two sessions and we were able to make several improvements over the course of the day. I'm quite happy with the balance and looking forward to tomorrow.
Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso: This new circuit has some interesting features which we are not used to, like the tunnel and it's a nice feeling to start running in daylight and going into the dark. This morning was a bit difficult, but we improved the car quite a lot in the afternoon, so I am not unhappy. You have to consider that there is a huge difference in the track between the first session and the second, as it is a lot quicker in the evening when it's cooler. It was a bit difficult to get the tires working properly, especially the Option, but apart from that, the car is not too bad. Now we have to see what we can do for tomorrow, when it will be important to qualify well.
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