Max Verstappen outpaced his team mate Alexander Albon in the final practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that saw Red Bull dictate the pace around the 5.5km Yas Marina Circuit.
Drivers were in no rush to roll out onto the Yas Marina Circuit when the lights switched to green as they all waited for the track conditions to become more representative. That was the consequence of the way the schedule for the weekend is defined as the qualifying and the race take place after sunset while the first and the third practice session are staged under sun.
With 18 minutes to go, Williams racer Nicholas Latifi went out for his first run, followed by a number of drivers. The majority of the drivers used the soft compound for their opening stint with Lando Norris and Lance Stroll representing the exceptions. The Briton and the Belgian-Canadian opted for the yellow-walled medium rubber for the first part of the session.
Following the first runs, Max Verstappen found himself at the top of the order. The Belgian-Dutch driver clocked in a time of 1m36.734 on the red-walled Pirelli tyres. Lewis Hamilton, who has recovered from Covid-19 for the season finale, was second, followed by Alexander Albon and Valtteri Bottas.
The Mercedes' duo was the first to head back out onto the track on the second fresh set of tyres. Hamilton and Bottas found it difficult to improve their previous times and ended up sixth and ninth fastest respectively. When asked where he lost time, Hamilton was told that he was losing on the straights, indicating that Mercedes used a much lower engine setting for the session than it will use in the remaining of the weekend.
Ferrari was once again in the midfield with both drivers losing time in the first and second sector compared to the Mercedes-, Renault- and Honda-powered rivals. Charles Leclerc finished in P12 while Sebastian Vettel ended up in P14 with both over a second behind Verstappen's benchmark.
The fight between Renault, McLaren and Racing Point continued in the session with the French manufacturer having the upper hand in the final practice before things get serious in qualifying. After missing the opening practice due to fuel pump-related issues, Daniel Ricciardo posted the third fastest time ahead of his team mate Esteban Ocon.
Lando Norris finished fifth fastest, two places ahead of Carlos Sainz. At Racing Point, it was Lance Stroll to post the better lap time, but the difference between the Canadian and last weekend's race winner Sergio Perez was under a tenth of a second.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:36.251||16|
|2||23||Alexander Albon||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:36.752||+0.501s||15|
|5||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN RENAULT||1:36.994||+0.743s||13|
|7||18||Lance Stroll||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||1:37.030||+0.779s||16|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz||MCLAREN RENAULT||1:37.068||+0.817s||12|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||1:37.227||+0.976s||13|
|11||26||Daniil Kvyat||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:37.266||+1.015s||17|
|13||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:37.371||+1.120s||18|
|15||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:37.886||+1.635s||16|
|16||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:37.900||+1.649s||16|
|17||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:38.269||+2.018s||16|
|18||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||1:38.457||+2.206s||14|
|19||6||Nicholas Latifi||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:38.765||+2.514s||17|
|20||51||Pietro Fittipaldi||HAAS FERRARI||1:39.159||+2.908s||15|