There was nothing to choose between the two Mercedes drivers in second practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton led Nico Rosberg by just eight hundredths of a second with a 1:42.113 on the super-soft tyres as the drivers did a brief qualifying simulation before the work on race simulation began under the floodlights at Yas Marina.
As has been the case throughout much of the season, the use of the red-striped tyres brought the rest of the field closer to the Mercedes as Kevin Magnussen claimed third for McLaren albeit still seven tenths of a second slower than the Silver Arrows.
Super-softs close up field
With drivers finding between one and one-and-a-half seconds in lap-time between the two compounds on a single flying lap, there is a good battle for 'best of the rest' developing between Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams.
Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo claimed fourth and sixth respectively with Valtteri Bottas in between as fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen was seventh ahead of Jenson Button with Daniil Kvyat and Felipe Massa completing the top ten.
Article continues below
All seven drivers were covered by just seven tenths of a second while two seconds covered Magnussen in third to Romain Grosjean in 18th. The only driver missing from the battle was Fernando Alonso as the Spaniard was left stranded out on the circuit early on with electrical problems in his Ferrari.
At Caterham they are proving more competitive than most thought and also completed more running as well with both drivers managing a combined 72 laps in the evening. Kamui Kobayashi was only sixth tenths slower than Grosjean while Will Stevens close the gap from the afternoon but was still one-and-a-half seconds slower than the Japanese driver.
The final half an hour was used to complete a race simulation and Hamilton seemed to have a good advantage over Rosberg particularly on the soft tyre as he was consistently lapping in the 1:47's also on the super-softs, as most suffered with high rear degradation, the Mercedes seemed happier completing a stint in the teens on the option rubber whereas some could only about 10 laps.
Only Ricciardo seemed a legitimate threat on the soft compound, matching Rosberg for much of the run, otherwise the two Mercedes were pretty much in a league of their own.
The battle for third is set to be jut as fierce in the race as it appears it will be in qualifying and it will be the classic case of those with the top speed down the two long straights who can overtake versus those who are slower in a straight line but can perhaps look after their tyres.
But for Hamilton and his fans the signs are good after Friday in the desert but as has been the case throughout the season, Rosberg will look to strike back on Saturday.