Lewis Hamilton posted the quickest time for McLaren as F1 machinery hit the track in Abu Dhabi for the first time in opening practice for the 2009 season finale.
Hamilton edged out fellow Briton Jenson Button for the honour of topping the first session at the new circuit, with the outgoing and new F1 champion being split by less than a tenth of a second at the end of the 90 minutes of running.
There was little running early on in the session due to the dusty nature of the circuit, with most of the major players remaining in the pits until some of the dust had been cleared from the circuit.
As drivers explored the limits of the circuit and track conditions improved, so times dropped as the session wore on and Hamilton ultimately ended up quickest with a time of 1min 43.939secs late on after a battle for top spot with Button through the closing stages. Button, now free from the pressure of fighting for the drivers' title, ended up just 0.096secs further back in second.
Sebastian Vettel was quickest of the Red Bull drivers in third place, two-tenths of a second off the pace, while Rubens Barrichello was fourth ahead of what could be his Brawn GP swansong. The Brazilian is widely expected to move over to Williams for 2010 with the Grove-based team set to confirm its driver line-up following the Abu Dhabi weekend.
Nick Heidfeld was an encouraging fifth ahead of the final race for BMW Sauber, while Sebastien Buemi, Adrian Sutil and Mark Webber rounded out the top eight. Sutil was the last driver to take to the track for the session as Force India worked on a brake issue on his car.
As expected, a number of drivers suffered minor incidents during the session with numerous spins, although no-one went into the barriers and all 20 drivers successfully managed to negotiate the pit lane exit tunnel without coming to grief.
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