Lewis Hamilton beaten to top time by Romain Grosjean in Abu Dhabi

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer at Yas Marina
Vettel error in Abu Dhabi practice

Lotus driver Romain Grosjean headed Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel in first practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Grosjean moved to the top of the timesheets late in the session, pipping Hamilton by 0.192 seconds.

Vettel, who won his fourth world title last weekend, was 0.066secs slower than Hamilton and 0.213secs clear of his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was fifth ahead of Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen.

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Force India's Paul Di Resta, fighting for his future in F1, was seventh, ahead of Williams's Pastor Maldonado and McLaren's Sergio Perez.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, fighting to hold on to second in the championship, was only 12th fastest, 1.199secs off the pace.

Alonso was one of a handful drivers, including Hamilton, who ran briefly wide and off the track during a largely uneventful session.

Vettel made a rare mistake at the end of the session, misjudging his braking as he came into the pits and hitting one of his mechanics. The man was uninjured.

With Vettel already crowned world champion, the focus is on the battle for second in the drivers' and constructors' championships with three races to go.

Alonso is 24 points ahead of Raikkonen, whose Lotus team's competitiveness has improved significantly in the second half of the season to the point that they now have consistently the second fastest car after Red Bull.

The battle for second in the constructors' championship is even more intense after Mercedes sneaked four points ahead of Ferrari in India. Lotus are 24 adrift of the Italian team in fourth place.

Raikkonen and Grosjean were driving different configuration cars in the first session, with the Frenchman in the long wheelbase car that has been used for the last three races and Raikkonen in the short-wheelbase version, which has done most of the season.

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Lotus were the centre of paddock speculation on Thursday after Raikkonen failed to turn up for the media day.

He had been upset by a radio exchange during the Indian Grand Prix when the team's trackside operations director Alan Permane swore at him when asking him to let Grosjean by in the closing laps.

Raikkonen needed some calming words from team boss Eric Boullier before he would get on a plane and fly to Abu Dhabi.

He turned up at the track only an hour or so before the first practice session.

Full first practice results here

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