Mercedes take charge in final Abu Dhabi practice

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

Lewis Hamilton led the pack in the final practice session at Abu Dhabi, followed by Valtteri Bottas in second to put Mercedes clearly ahead of the rest. Both Ferraris were more than half a second down on the pace setter and look set for an uphill battle for pole.

Since the very start of the session, the top times were set by Mercedes and Ferrari, often switching at the top of the timesheet after Raikkonen had set the initial benchmark. Red Bull were a bit absent early on, but when they eventually joined the qualifying simulations, it was obvious they were no match to the aforementioned teams. Verstappen set his car was "so, so difficult to drive". The duo hence ended up 5th and 6th.

Behind them in the ranking were Alonso and Vandoorne. The latter had another eventful session, with several offs, but still managed to get a clean lap in to stay close to Alonso.

Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez completed the top 10 for Renault and Force India respectively. Nico Hulkenberg failed to make it into the top 10, just like Massa and Ocon, their deficit to 10th position was extremely small.

At the back, Pierre Gasly was struggling with car balance throughout the session, complaining about rear grip about everywhere on the track. He reported no traction and a lack of rear grip on corner entry. It resulted in the 18th fastest time, ahead only of Ericsson and team mate Brendon Hartley.

The most notable incident of the one-hour session however was at the halfway point, when an umbrella was out on the track at the apex of Turn 13. A virtual safety car was introduced to get the track cleared again.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:37.627-18
277Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:37.900+0.273s20
37Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:38.157+0.530s21
45Sebastian VettelFerrari1:38.174+0.547s21
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:38.340+0.713s15
633Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:38.587+0.960s13
714Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda1:39.155+1.528s14
82Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda1:39.277+1.650s17
955Carlos SainzRenault1:39.340+1.713s14
1011Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:39.367+1.740s18
1119Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:39.383+1.756s15
1227Nico HulkenbergRenault1:39.396+1.769s17
1331Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:39.500+1.873s17
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:39.831+2.204s18
158Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:40.079+2.452s18
1694Pascal WehrleinSauber Ferrari1:40.307+2.680s19
1718Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:40.572+2.945s15
1810Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1:40.737+3.110s20
199Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:40.789+3.162s20
2028Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1:40.883+3.256s22