McLaren again swept both free practice sessions on the opening day of a grand prix, as Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time in FP2 to head a team 1-2 ahead of FP1 pacesetter Jenson Button.
As the sun set over Yas Marina, Hamilton moved to the top of the times with a best mark of 1min 39.586secs that comfortably undercut Button's FP1 time. When the elder Briton moved into second spot, McLaren took control of the session, usurping the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, who had both previously occupied P1. Hamilton ended the 90-minute session a couple of tenths clear of his team-mate, with Fernando Alonso moving into third place, a similar distance behind Button.
Both Webber and Vettel had moments as they attempted to ramp up the pace, with the Australian looping around and running backwards under the hotel that stretches across the track. Vettel's exit was more dramatic, as he lost control at turn one and slid sideways into the protective barrier. Although he was unable to extricate the RB7 from the wall, the world champion was able to resume his session once the Red Bull mechanics had returned to the car to the pits.
Alonso, too, hit the turn one wall - leading to comparisons with Montreal's infamous 'Wall of Champions' - but suffered more severe damage to his Ferrari and ended the session as a spectator. His third place remained tantalisingly out of reach of team-mate Felipe Massa, however, the Brazilian unable to bridge the 0.009secs divide despite re-appearing with the flexible front wing that caused a stir in India two weekends ago.
Webber and Vettel wound up fifth and sixth respectively on the timesheet, both just over half a second slower than Hamilton, while Michael Schumacher, Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta and Kamui Kobayashi rounded out the top ten. The seven-time world champion was notable for some unusual lines, however, which saw his Mercedes in the run-off areas, while team-mate Nico Rosberg ended the session down in 20th spot, and relied on his FP1 time for his best effort.
Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso proved evenly matched as usual, with a second covering Sutil in eighth and Jaime Alguersuari in 14th, with the Renault of Vitaly Petrov also snared in that group. Bruno Senna, who sat out the first session, was three-tenths slower, and not much further ahead of the two Williams, with Rubens Barrichello finally getting some decent track time under his belt after dropping out early in FP1. Heikki Kovalainen again proved the fastest of the third division teams, out-pacing Lotus team-mate Jarno Trulli, while Virgin duo Timo Glock and Jerome d'Ambrosio used their allocation of '2012' soft tyres to turn the tables on HRT by relegating Tonio Liuzzi - who sat out two-thirds of the session with mechanical gremlins - and Daniel Ricciardo to the bottom of the timesheet.