Abu Dhabi GP: Verstappen edges Mercedes duo in FP3

Max Verstappen topped the final practice session of the 2019 Formula 1 season as three drivers lapped within a tenth ahead of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying.

Abu Dhabi GP: Verstappen edges Mercedes duo in FP3

The Red Bull driver improved with less than five minutes to go to deny Mercedes a one-two in FP3, heading Lewis Hamilton by 0.074s and Valtteri Bottas by 0.089s.

Ferrari was less competitive in terms of outright pace, as neither of its drivers lapped within four tenths of Verstappen’s benchmark, but used medium tyres instead of a second set of softs.

Hamilton was quickest after the first round of soft-tyre runs, comfortably clear of Bottas, and suffered a lock-up into the first chicane that caused him to abort his next flying lap.

He did not set a quicker time than his 1m36.640s afterwards but remained on top despite a big improvement from Bottas that brought him just 0.015s slower than Hamilton.

Verstappen had trailed Hamilton by 0.089s at this point but completed a second flying lap on his second set of softs late on to vault both Mercedes and top the last free practice session of the year.

Red Bull teammate Alex Albon backed up Verstappen in fourth, 0.361s off the pace and ahead of the medium-shod Ferraris.

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An early run for Albon had been ruined in a near-miss with the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg, which was running slowly and partly on the racing line after the blind, fast Turn 16 that leads into the slow Turn 17 right-hander. Both have been summoned to the stewards as a result.

Sebastian Vettel won the Ferrari fight for fifth with a 1m36.975s ahead of Leclerc’s 1m37.010s.

Leclerc did not have a second set of softs to use as he used an extra set in FP2, having hit the wall and damaged the right rear wheel and tyre.

Behind the big three teams, Sergio Perez led the midfield battle for Racing Point and lapped within a second of Verstappen.

Daniel Ricciardo was fractionally slower in his Renault, while McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly made it four team in the final four places in the top 10.

Session results

Cla # Driver Chassis Engine Time
1 33 Netherlands Max Verstappen
Red Bull Honda 1'36.566
2 44 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes Mercedes 1'36.640
3 77 Finland Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes Mercedes 1'36.655
4 23 Thailand Alex Albon
Red Bull Honda 1'36.927
5 5 Germany Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari Ferrari 1'36.975
6 16 Monaco Charles Leclerc
Ferrari Ferrari 1'37.010
7 11 Mexico Sergio Perez
Racing Point Mercedes 1'37.516
8 3 Australia Daniel Ricciardo
Renault Renault 1'37.615
9 55 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr.
McLaren Renault 1'37.691
10 10 France Pierre Gasly
Toro Rosso Honda 1'37.736
11 8 France Romain Grosjean
Haas Ferrari 1'37.768
12 26 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat
Toro Rosso Honda 1'37.963
13 4 United Kingdom Lando Norris
McLaren Renault 1'38.100
14 20 Denmark Kevin Magnussen
Haas Ferrari 1'38.198
15 18 Canada Lance Stroll
Racing Point Mercedes 1'38.462
16 7 Finland Kimi Raikkonen
Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'38.514
17 27 Germany Nico Hulkenberg
Renault Renault 1'38.580
18 99 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi
Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'38.782
19 63 United Kingdom George Russell
Williams Mercedes 1'39.206
20 88 Poland Robert Kubica
Williams Mercedes 1'39.859
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