Verstappen edges Hamilton and Bottas in the final practice

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen topped the third and final free practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, narrowly beating the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Struggling for grip in the last sector, Ferrari drivers failed to keep up with their rivals in the hot session.

Drivers appeared to be in no rush as the lights went green for the final free practice session of the 2019 season. Only six drivers completed an installation lap within the first ten-minute period of the session which was less surprising given the fact that the qualifying and the race will take place in very different weather conditions.

Lando Norris was the first driver to complete a hot lap when he set a lap time of 1m38.987 on Pirelli’s medium compound. After the Briton’s session-opening timed lap, several drivers joined the action to prepare themselves for the all-important qualifying session. The young Briton’s lead did not last long as Daniel Ricciardo put in a very promising performance with setting a time of 1m38.271.

18 minutes into the session, the Mercedes and the Ferrari duo also went out on to the track to commence their preparation work for the remainder of the weekend. Doing multiple laps on the soft tyres, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas continued where they left off yesterday. Following the first runs, the Briton led the way with a time of 1m36.640 in front of his teammate and Max Verstappen.

On their first set of tyres, Ferrari drivers struggled to get the optimal grip which meant that Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc lost out a significant amount of time to their rivals Red Bull and Mercedes.

When drivers went out for their final stint on fresh tyres, Ferrari caused a surprise by opting for the Yellow medium compound. Vettel and Leclerc were strong through the first two sectors, but lost over half a second to the then-leading Hamilton in the twisting final part of the track and failed to take over the lead on their fresh tyres. Shaving off a few tenths of a second from the giant gap to the front, Vettel clocked a 1m36.975 while his teammate Leclerc was 35 thousands of a second slower.

Hamilton and Bottas hardly found any time on their second set of soft tyres while Max Verstappen’s last attempt saw him taking over the lead in season’s last practice session. The Dutchman’s lap of 1’36.566 was only 74 thousands of a second faster than the best lap time of Hamilton. Interestingly, the Briton was astonishingly quick through Sector 3 with his best time being two tenths of a second faster than the one of his teammate Bottas and over half a second than those of the Ferrari drivers.

While Ricciardo continued to excel around the Yas Marina circuit, Alfa Romeo drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi failed to improve their setup and struggled for pace.

Williams duo George Russell and Robert Kubica ended the session at the bottom end of the field in 19th and 20th respectively.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
133Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:36.566-15
244Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:36.640+0.074s18
377Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:36.655+0.089s17
423Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA1:36.927+0.361s18
55Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:36.975+0.409s15
616Charles LeclercFERRARI1:37.010+0.444s16
711Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:37.516+0.950s16
83Daniel RicciardoRENAULT1:37.615+1.049s14
955Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT1:37.691+1.125s22
1010Pierre GaslySCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA1:37.736+1.170s17
118Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:37.768+1.202s12
1226Daniil KvyatSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA1:37.963+1.397s18
134Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT1:38.100+1.534s18
1420Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:38.198+1.632s12
1518Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:38.462+1.896s16
167Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:38.514+1.948s21
1727Nico HulkenbergRENAULT1:38.580+2.014s14
1899Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:38.782+2.216s18
1963George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:39.206+2.640s16
2088Robert KubicaWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:39.859+3.293s17