Heikki Kovalainen emerged at the head of the times following the opening day of practice for the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after heading McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton in second free practice for the F1 season finale.

Having finished the opening session of the weekend down in twelfth place, Kovalainen produced the quickest lap of the weekend to date as circuit conditions improved and lap times dropped.

The session itself started at dusk and ended with cars running under lights, giving the drivers their first taste of the conditions they can expect in Sunday's race.

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Kovalainen emerged on top with a quickest time of 1min 41.307secs - more then two seconds quicker than Hamilton had managed to pace the opening session of the weekend. This time around, the Briton was forced to settle for second and was nearly two-tenths of a second behind his team-mate while new champion Jenson Button slotted into third for Brawn GP.

Sebastian Vettel was fourth quickest as he looks to secure second place in the championship standings, while Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi were impressive for Toyota and Toro Rosso respectively as they took fifth and sixth. Buemi had headed the timesheets for a long period early in the session as he continued to display the strong pace shown in Brazil.

Mark Webber was seventh ahead of Rubens Barrichello, with Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen rounding out the top ten.

Elsewhere, Adrian Sutil was eleventh despite encountering more brake problems which left him to spend time in the pits early in the session, while Robert Kubica managed just 13 laps before the engine in his BMW Sauber expired and forced him to park on the edge of the circuit.

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