Nico Rosberg quickest but ‘old’ engine has him worried ahead of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Looks can be deceiving sometimes in sport and that was the case for Nico Rosberg on Friday at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg is showing speed but is worried his 'old' engine will not hold up against his teammate Lewis Hamilton's younger one. Clive Mason / Getty Images
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ABU DHABI // Looks can be deceiving sometimes in sport and that was the case for Nico Rosberg on Friday at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Mercedes-GP driver appeared, on the surface, to have made the perfect start to his bid to win a third successive grand prix as he topped the times in practice.

His time of one minute, 41.983 seconds was good enough to edge out teammate Lewis Hamilton, who has already been crowned drivers’ world champion, by 0.138 secs, but the German was downbeat afterwards on his prospects of repeating that result in Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s 55-lap race.


Under cost-cutting rules, each driver can only use four engines during a F1 season, with additional ones after that occurring grid penalties.

Rosberg is on his fourth engine of the year, and said he is at a disadvantage compared to Hamilton, who has a fresher power unit in his Mercedes W06.

“It has been a good start to the weekend, even though Lewis did not show his pace on one lap. It is clear that he still has some reserve,” Rosberg told reporters. “Today is not the real picture.

“In general it is going to be difficult because I have an extremely old engine - the one I have has a lot of miles on and that is costing me straight-line speed.

“So it is going to be a difficult weekend as a result. I just have to go quicker in the corners.”

Ominously for Rosberg, Hamilton shared his teammate’s view.

The Briton said he is well set-up for a strong weekend as the triple world champion looks to win at Yas Marina Circuit for a third time in five years.

“I made some changes to the car and so it feels relatively good,” the 30 year old said of his confidence for challenging for his 12th pole position of the season, but first since Italy in September, which was six races ago.

“I might make some more tweaks tonight and hopefully tomorrow’s going to be good.”

Sergio Perez was a surprise third in his Force India, setting a time of 1:42.610, but the Mexican’s session was curtailed early by a brake problem.

He downplayed the lost time on track and said: “The baseline set-up we worked on is already quite good, so we’re in good shape for tomorrow.”

The Red Bull Racing cars of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were fourth and sixth, sandwiching the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, with the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen in seventh, and Perez’s teammate Nico Hulkenberg completing the top eight.

Fernando Alonso was ninth quickest in his McLaren and Pastor Maldonado 10th.

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