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Rediff.com  » Sports » F1 champion Vettel back on top in Abu Dhabi

F1 champion Vettel back on top in Abu Dhabi

November 01, 2013 20:50 IST

Sebastian VettelNewly-crowned four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel showed no signs of easing up as he led a Red Bull one-two in free practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix on Friday.

The 26-year-old German, who secured his fourth successive title in India last weekend, scorched around the Yas Marina circuit with a best time of one minute 41.335 seconds in the evening session.

Australian team mate Mark Webber was 0.155 slower.

Lotus's Romain Grosjean, whose team mate Kimi Raikkonen won last year's race, was fastest in the searing heat of the afternoon in 1:44.241 but had a front brake failure under the floodlights.

Force India's Paul Di Resta and McLaren's Jenson Button both suffered punctures.

Lewis Hamilton, winner in 2011 and twice on pole at the circuit, was second quickest for Mercedes in the opening session, just 0.192 slower than Grosjean, and third in the evening.

Raikkonen, who triggered speculation about his relationship with the team when he failed to appear for Thursday's media activities at the circuit, finally turned up and was sixth and fourth fastest respectively in the two sessions.

Grosjean has beaten Raikkonen in the last two races and finished on the podium in the last three.

Vettel, the sport's youngest quadruple champion, is chasing his seventh successive race victory to equal fellow-German Michael Schumacher's 2004 streak.

That is the longest winning run of the modern era, with the record of nine set by Italian Alberto Ascari over the 1952 and 1953 seasons.

Red Bull have already clinched their fourth successive constructors' title and the focus is now on whether anyone can stop Red Bull and Vettel winning the last three races of the year.

Vettel has won two of the four races held in Abu Dhabi, including 2010 when he clinched his first championship.

Webber was fourth quickest before the sun set and the floodlights came on, with Nico Rosberg fifth for Mercedes in both sessions.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who had been the only man mathematically capable of making Vettel wait for the title in India, was 12th and eighth with Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa 17th and 10th.

Image: Sebastian Vettel

Photograph: Reuters

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