Red Bull shows unrivalled pace on softs in FP3

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

Sebastian Vettel was again fastest in the final practice ahead of qualifying later today. Mark Webber was second fastest, showing that the Red Bull is indeed very quick on the soft tyres. Earlier running on the mediums showed that times were more closely matched.

Temperatures at the start of the session are even higher than yesterday. Both track and ambient are 3 degrees higher, making this session's conditions even less representative to qualifying or the race.

The initial lapping was again done by Caterham and Marussia and it was Kimi Raikkonen who set the first representative time, 15 minutes into the session. Soon after, Vettel joined the party, showing off his gold layered helmet to celebrate his 4th World Championship title. He briefly went fastest, only to see Raikkonen take back the top spot.

Half an hour later, times have been improving as is the track. Nico Rosberg at this time is fastest on the medium, marginally ahead of Webber and Vettel. Hamilton is fourth fastest, 3 tenths off of his teammate. Raikkonen and Grosjean and behind, followed by Button, Bottas, Sutil and Hulkenberg. Ferrari has seemingly failed to improve overnight with Alonso positioned 12th and Massa 16th.

15 minutes from the end, Bianchi then finds himself getting on the throttle a bit too early out of turn 1, spinning off the track and into the barrier, fortunately damaging only the front wing on his car. He failed to keep it going however and the subsequent clearance of his car brought yellows on he track, stopped any relevant running.

Next up, with the car cleared is some running on the softer tyre as most teams seemingly agreed the yellow flag situation was the ideal moment to change tyres.

Unsurprisingly, the runs on the soft tyres were again dominated by Red Bull, trouncing both Mercedes cars. Not everyone however managed to do a clean lap, so the times are a bit unrepresentative. Qualifying will show more, without doubt.

Results

Pos.No.DriverTeamTimeGapLaps
11Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:41.349-19
22Mark WebberRed Bull Racing-Renault1:41.5710.22217
310Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:41.5800.23118
49Nico RosbergMercedes AMG1:41.7210.37219
58Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:41.8320.48319
65Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:41.9560.60719
711Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari1:42.0550.70619
812Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1:42.2820.93319
97Kimi RäikkönenLotus-Renault1:42.3871.03818
1018Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Ferrari1:42.4571.10821
113Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:42.5161.16715
1214Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1:42.6811.33223
1317Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1:42.6981.34919
144Felipe MassaFerrari1:42.7021.35316
1519Daniel RicciardoSTR-Ferrari1:42.7271.37818
1616Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1:42.7981.44918
1715Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1:42.9891.64022
186Sergio PerezMcLaren-Mercedes1:43.1421.79315
1921Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault1:44.4723.12320
2020Charles PicCaterham-Renault1:44.7283.37921
2123Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth1:45.6214.27220
2222Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth1:47.5066.15715