McLaren and Red Bull shared the spoils on the opening day of practice for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in glorious weather, but concern for the constructors’ champions, as Mark Webber was prevented from working through a long run at the end thanks to a water leak.
Talking of liquid, one thing I didn’t get chance to mention during my tweets or commentary entries today, was that conditions in the region were close to being favourable for thunderstorm development. Indeed, two cells did form to the north-west of Abu Dhabi, over the Persian Gulf, but after a quick look at the radar loop prior to first practice it became clear that these showers would not make it to land.
Track temperature climbed to 48 degrees briefly during the afternoon practice and according to my previous data, that is a record during an official Formula 1 session. The 2009 event delivered a slightly higher ambient, but the maximum through the Friday and Saturday three years ago was between 45 and 47 Celsius.
To the surprise of absolutely none of you, we are all set for a repeat showing tomorrow. It will be warm with abundant sunshine from the start, resulting in fine conditions for final practice and qualifying. The official sunset time is 17:41 GST, which will be towards the end of Q2.
Air temperature is expected to reach a high of 32 Celsius during final practice, dipping by a couple of degrees to around 30c by the end of qualifying, translating into a high track temperature into the mid or high-forties range again, before dipping gradually during the knockout session.
Fingers crossed that an ever-improving grip level will help to produce a close and exciting two sessions, with the V8 Supercars also on hand to keep the fans entertained. Once the track action has concluded, I will be back to look over the day’s events and look ahead to the all-important race day forecast.