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Button edges out Hamilton in final session

NEWS STORY
31/10/2009

Ahead of today's sole free practice session, the air temperature is 34 degrees C, while the track temperature is 45 degrees. Humidity is 23 percent while the wind speed is 2.4 mps. It is bright and sunny as one would expect.

McLaren were the pace-setters yesterday, however, Brawn and Red Bull were up there, unlike Ferrari whose drivers finished tenth and seventeenth overall.

Tyre choices this weekend are medium (prime) and soft (option), the same combination used at Spa and Monza.

When the lights go green it is Fisichella who leads the way, followed by Vettel, Buemi, Nakajima, Kubica, Grosjean, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Liuzzi and Trulli.

Five minutes into the session all but Alguersuari have made an appearance, though, as ever, the drivers have merely completed an installation lap.

Twelve minutes into the session, in the shadow of the highly impressive Ferrari World complex, the scarlet cars of Fisichella and Raikkonen head down the pitlane.

As the Italian begins the first flying lap of the day he is joined by Buemi, Nakajima and Grosjean.

Fisichella posts the benchmark (48.028), however, Raikkonen crosses the line at 46.759.

Ass Raikkonen improves to 45.378, Buemi goes third ahead of Nakajima and Kovalainen. The Finns trade fastest sector times and next time around while the Ferrari driver posts 44.480 the McLaren driver crosses the line at 43.046, almost 1.5s quicker.

As Trulli takes full advantage of the ludicrously wide run-offs, and Nakajima takes a ride over the berks, Sutil goes second (44.177) ahead of Alonso.

Kovalainen goes wide and Raikkonen has a minor wobble, the track still proving difficult.

Kubica, who missed most of yesterday afternoon's session following an engine failure, goers second (43.182) only to be leapfrogged by Raikkonen who improves with a 43.046.

A 42.871 sees Buemi go quickest, the Swiss driver, like most of his rivals, still running on the prime tyre. However, still no sign of his Toro Rosso teammate Alguersuari who is understood to have a hydraulics problem.

Hamilton goes second with a 42.440, however next time around he is momentarily eclipsed by Button before taking the top spot with a 41.270. Hamilton on the prime tyre while Button is on the option.

Sutil splits the World Champions with a 42.360, while Webber and Vettel finally post times, the German going fifteenth and the Australian eighteenth.

As Vettel improves to second (42.287), Button goes quickest in the first sector. The British driver crosses the line at 42.094, however, moments later Webber posts 42.022 to go second demoting the 2009 champion to fourth.

Kovalainen takes a bumpy ride over the Yas Marina kerbs having improves to fourth with a 42.028. Next time around a 41.915 sees the Finn go third.

Hamilton goes quickest in the second sector, crossing the timing beams at 41.026, the Woking team looking likely to add to its win tally this weekend.

As Kubica goes third, courtesy of going quickest in sector three, Kobayashi (currently sixth) goes quickest overall in the first sector. The Pole goes third with a 41.478 while his Japanese rival slips into fourth with a 41.499.

Heidfeld, who is down in nineteenth, admits that he cannot understand how his teammate is so much quicker. While the Pole is fourth on 41.478, the German is on 43.637, over 2s adrift. Heidfeld assumes it must be down to tyres.

With 10 minutes remaining, almost unnoticed, Buemi goes quickest with a 40.934, ahead of Hamilton, Sutil, Vettel, Kubica, Kobayashi, Raikkonen, Liuzzi, Rosberg and Button.

Barrichello, currently fourteenth, posts personal best in the first sector. Elsewhere, Vettel, on the option tyre, begins a flying lap. Barrichello improves to thirteenth with a 42.367.

As the sun goes down, and temperatures cool, it is noticeable that there are no significant improvements as the track begins to lose its grip.

Trulli posts personal bests in the first two sectors, crossing the line at 42.653 and thereby improving to fifteenth.

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