Lewis Hamilton stays on top to lead Mercedes one-two in Abu Dhabi final practice
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - FP3

Lewis Hamilton stays on top to lead Mercedes one-two in Abu Dhabi final practice

Lewis Hamilton topped the final practice session ahead of qualifying for Formula One's season finale in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

With the title sewn up three weeks ago in Mexico, Hamilton is hoping to seal his championship-winning year with a victory this weekend. He was 0.273s clear of Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes and 0.530s quicker than the fastest Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen in third. Sebastian Vettel was fourth, 0.017s off his Ferrari teammate and 0.547s off Hamilton.

All the times come with the caveat that the session took place in the heat of the day, while the fastest times in qualifying will be set once the sun has gone down. For the record, Hamilton had a significant advantage over all his rivals in the final sector (0.247s over Bottas and 0.394s over Raikkonen), which is consistent with the quick lap he set in the evening practice session on Friday. Therefore, matching or beating Hamilton in the tight final sector is likely to be the key to depriving the newly-crowned four-time world champion in qualifying.

The Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were fifth and sixth, but both cars appeared to struggle for grip throughout their quick laps. Ricciardo finished 0.713s off Hamilton, but both Red Bulls will hope the cooler temperatures in qualifying will enable them to fight on level terms with the Ferraris for the second row.

McLaren finished the session as the fourth best team, with Fernando Alonso seventh and Stoffel Vandoorne eighth. Both drivers were over 1.5s off the lead Mercedes and will have their focus on the five cars behind, which were split by 0.223s and will all fancy their chances of depriving Alonso and Vandoorne of a place in the top ten.

The only yellow flag incident during the session came when a parasol blew onto the track at Turn 8, causing a brief Virtual Safety Car as a marshal ran out to collect the obstacle. The session resumed under green flag conditions soon after, with 30 minutes remaining on the clock.

Qualifying gets underway at 17:00 local time.

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