Verstappen on top in final Abu Dhabi practice

 

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the third practice session ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit. — AFP
Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the third practice session ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit. — AFP

Abu Dhabi - In beautiful conditions, with an air temperature of 25 and the track at 38 degrees, the session began slowly

By AFP

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Published: Sat 12 Dec 2020, 5:02 PM

Max Verstappen topped the times ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Alex Albon in Saturday’s third and final free practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Dutchman clocked a best lap in one minute and 36.251 to finish half a second ahead of the London-born Thai driver as the Milton Keynes-based team shone in perfect conditions at the Yas Marina Circuit before Sunday’s season-ending race.


Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon locked out the second row ahead of Lando Norris, fifth for McLaren, and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton who was sixth in the leading Mercedes.

In an unusual-looking top ten, as most teams prepared for the much-cooler conditions expected for qualifying later on Saturday, Lance Stroll was seventh for Racing Point ahead of Carlos Sainz of McLaren.


Valtteri Bottas, who had topped the times in Friday’s second session after Verstappen had been fastest in the first, was ninth in the second Mercedes ahead of last weekend’s Sakhir victor Sergio Perez in the second Racing Point.

It appeared that the team were not all treating the session with the same level of competitive intent - Mercedes, in particular, seemed to be holding back on engine power to preserve their units.

Ahead of the final event of the campaign, reliability may be an issue as engines and other parts reach the end of their Formula One seasonal life span.

In beautiful conditions, with an air temperature of 25 and the track at 38 degrees, the session began slowly and 16 minutes had passed before Nicholas Latifi was first man out in his Williams.

Mercedes emerged five minutes later and Bottas swiftly went top on softs only to be replaced by Albon and his team-mate Verstappen. Hamilton persevered with his softs and split the Red Bulls with 15 minutes remaining.

The champion continued working and trimmed Verstappen’s advantage to two-tenths as both Ferraris found speed, Leclerc taking fifth and Vettel seventh ahead of a remarkable Russell, who had hoisted his Williams beyond expectations.

In the final 10 minutes, a flurry of action saw a rush of improved times as the teams fine-tuned ahead of qualifying, scheduled for later in cooler conditions at dusk.



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