FP3: Verstappen leads Red Bull one-two in final practice

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

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.

133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:36.25116
223Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing Honda1:36.752+0.501s15
33Daniel RicciardoRenault1:36.877+0.626s12
431Esteban OconRenault1:36.899+0.648s15
54Lando NorrisMclaren Renault1:36.994+0.743s13
644Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:37.012+0.761s16
718Lance StrollRacing Point Bwt Mercedes1:37.030+0.779s16
855Carlos SainzMclaren Renault1:37.068+0.817s12
977Valtteri BottasMercedes1:37.085+0.834s16
1011Sergio PerezRacing Point Bwt Mercedes1:37.227+0.976s13
1126Daniil KvyatAlphatauri Honda1:37.266+1.015s17
1216Charles LeclercFerrari1:37.270+1.019s14
1310Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Honda1:37.371+1.120s18
145Sebastian VettelFerrari1:37.728+1.477s16
1563George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:37.886+1.635s16
1699Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:37.900+1.649s16
177Kimi RรคikkรถnenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:38.269+2.018s16
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:38.457+2.206s14
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:38.765+2.514s17
2051Pietro FittipaldiHaas Ferrari1:39.159+2.908s15