Nico Rosberg shone under the lights in Abu Dhabi as he edged Lewis Hamilton in their qualifying sims on the super soft tyres on Friday night.
As the sun began to set over the Yas Marina circuit Mercedes swept to the early 1-2 in Friday’s second practice as they have done so often this season.
Putting in the laps on the soft tyres Hamilton set the pace with a 1:42.524, 0.243s quicker than Rosberg.
The team-mates were a full second quicker than their nearest rival, Daniel Ricciardo, who has reverted to the old spec Renault engine for the season finale.
As the lights came into effect and the track temperature dropped to 29’C the drivers began to swap over to the super soft Pirelli tyres.
Both Ferrari and Red Bull changed rubber before the Mercedes drivers but worryingly for both teams none of their drivers were able to beat Hamilton’s time which he had set on the slow soft tyres.
Mercedes’ qualifying sim saw a change at the top as Rosberg went quicker than Hamilton. The German, who arrived at the Yas Marina circuit on the back of five successive pole positions, posted a 1:41.983 to edge his team-mate by 0.138s.
Sergio Perez surprised as he jumped up to third place, 0.627s down, while Daniel Ricciardo was fourth ahead of Sebastian Vettel. The trio were separated by just over a tenth of a second.
Daniil Kvyat was sixth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg with Fernando Alonso impressing as he puts his MP4-30 up into ninth place. The McLaren driver was 0.972s off the P1 time.
Pastor Maldonado completed the top ten.
As the drivers turned their focus to long runs Carlos Sainz evening came to a premature end as the Toro Rosso driver pulled over onto the side of the track at Turn 7 as his STR10 ran into trouble, apparently a brake-by-wire issue.
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:41.983 37 laps
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:42.121 +0.138 30 laps
3 Sergio Perez Force India 1:42.610 +0.627 23 laps
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:42.647 +0.664 35 laps
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:42.717 +0.734 34 laps
6 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:42.798 +0.815 33 laps
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:42.849 +0.866 35 laps
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:42.928 +0.945 34
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:42.955 +0.972 30 laps
10 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:43.431 +1.448 35 laps
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:43.441 +1.458 31 laps
12 Felipe Massa Williams 1:43.506 +1.523 32 laps
13 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:43.662 +1.679 39 laps
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:43.854 +1.871 20 laps
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:43.929 +1.946 26 laps
16 Jenson Button McLaren 1:44.050 +2.067 31 laps
17 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:44.116 +2.133 36 laps
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:45.245 +3.262 27 laps
19 Will Stevens Manor 1:46.450 +4.467 34 laps
20 Roberto Merhi Manor 1:47.022 +5.039 26 laps