Lewis Hamilton completed a Friday sweep for McLaren by setting the pace in the second free practice session in Abu Dhabi, ahead of his teammate Jenson Button. But while the McLaren men carried on serenely, Turn 1 claimed two World Champions as both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso hit the barriers during the session.
Alonso's accident was enough to call an early halt to his session, but he was third fastest ahead of Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa, Mark Webber and Vettel. Michael Schumacher, who once again ran off track more than once during the session, was seventh ahead of Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta and Kamui Kobayashi.
A busy start to the session saw di Resta establish himself at the top of the times with a 1m42.550s, but only momentarily until Webber usurped him with a time 0.528sec faster.
There followed a period of Red Bull dominance in the opening 15 minutes as Vettel then beat Webber's time, only for the Australian to respond instantly with a 1m40.723s. So it continued as Vettel produced a 1m40.514s; then Webber a 1m40.598s. Webber's lap times dropped off after that, but Vettel went faster still to record a 1m40.197s.
With quarter of an hour gone it was Vettel, Webber and di Resta's Force India teammate Sutil, all having set their laps on the experimental soft tires – ahead of Hamilton and Schumacher's Mercedes.
Alonso changed all that by going second fastest in the Ferrari, which seemed to be behaving better in the twilight conditions of FP2. Making the most of the new soft tires he then improved to a 1m40.141s, putting him at the top of the pile for the first time in the weekend. By the time he had completed his run, Alonso had reduced that mark to 1m39.971s.
As the session moved into the halfway mark, Red Bull and McLaren began working on their long runs, not assisted it has to be said by a spin for Mark Webber at Turn 18. There appeared to be very little in it between the two teams.
With 40 minutes to go, McLaren bolted on the official softs (as opposed to the experimental ones Pirelli has been testing on Friday) for the first time and instantly Hamilton moved to the top with a 1m39.586s. Teammate Button's best attempt was a 1m39.785s, good enough for second.
Red Bull was also out on the option Pirellis by this time as well, and it was now that the first major drama of the session took place as Vettel crashed on a Friday for the fourth time this season. The German also thumped the barriers in Turkey, Canada and Japan earlier this year. On this occasion he was fifth in the times when he turned in on the curbs at Turn 1, lost the rear and slid sideways in to the TecPro barriers. Little obvious damage was done to the RB7 beyond a broken front wing. So little, in fact, that he was able to rejoin the session after the car was recovered.
The resulting yellow flags in the crash zone prompted a period of calm as most people headed for the pits. But the circuit had been back to green for no more than 10 minutes when drama number two occurred, and this time it was Alonso who had backed his Ferrari into Turn 1. The Spaniard had done significantly more visible damage to his car than Vettel, with a broken rear wing and rear suspension, his day's track action concluded.
All this left McLaren, Webber and the rest to concentrate on their heavy-fuel, soft-tired race pace as the session moved into its last 20 minutes, but there were no more significant changes to the order.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m39.586s 31
2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m39.785s + 0.199 30
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m39.971s + 0.385 20
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m39.980s + 0.394 34
5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m40.104s + 0.518 35
6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m40.132s + 0.546 26
7. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m40.553s + 0.967 34
8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m40.951s + 1.365 34
9. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m41.021s + 1.435 37
10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m41.490s + 1.904 34
11. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m41.565s + 1.979 34
12. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m41.680s + 2.094 33
13. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m41.947s + 2.361 31
14. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m41.983s + 2.397 34
15. Bruno Senna Renault 1m42.369s + 2.783 36
16. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m42.798s + 3.212 35
17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m42.910s + 3.324 34
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m43.562s + 3.976 36
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m44.050s + 4.464 38
20. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m44.265s + 4.679 41
21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m45.486s + 5.900 34
22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m46.142s + 6.556 32
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m46.249s + 6.663 21
24. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m46.328s + 6.742 34
All Timing Unofficial