FP3: Hamilton hits the front in final practice

FP3: Lewis Hamilton hits the front in final practice

FP3: Lewis Hamilton hits the front in final practice

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in final practice for the Abu Dhabi GP while Daniel Ricciardo had yet another breakdown in his RB14.

Saturday’s final practice, both for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the 2018 F1 season, got underway in sweltering conditions with the track temperature up to 42’C.

That may have meant that the lap times weren’t a true reflection of the pecking order but it was nonetheless the final hour to set up the cars ahead of qualifying.

Sergey Sirotkin was the first man to post a time, a 1:42.5. Unfortunately for the Williams rookie, he was also the first to meet the rebuilt Turn 20 kerb and was left asking Williams to check for damage.

Kimi Raikkonen took over at the top with 1:39.314 on the hypersoft tyres. The Finn, though, was struggling to get in a clean lap, having several offs as he pushed the limits.

His team-mate Sebastian Vettel went fastest with a 1:38.668.

Vettel’s 2019 team-mate, Charles Leclerc, had the first big drama of the session as he got it wrong at Turn 18, put dirt on his tyres and rear ended the barrier at Turn 19.

He told Sauber that his rear tyres had gone despite only being on his sixth lap of the session.

Back at the front, Vettel led the way halfway through the session with his 1:38.668 while Max Verstappen was second, 0.418s down and Lewis Hamilton was third.

The Mercedes driver added his name to the list of those running wide and skating along the Turn 20 kerb before improving to second place.

Vettel ventured out on a new set of the hypersoft Pirellis and went purple in the first, second and third sectors. He took a full second off his time; a 1:37.587 for the German.

Hamilton responded with a hot lap of his own and went quickest, a 1:37.176. He went ahead of Vettel, make that Raikkonen as the Finn slid up into second place. He was 0.288s off Hamilton’s pace.

Vettel finished the session in third place ahead of Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo’s session ended five minutes earlier as he parked his RB14 between Turns 9 and 10 with a suspected water pressure issue.

Romain Grosjean was best of the rest for Haas while Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon completed the top ten.

Ocon had a difficult final practice as he spent much of the session stuck in the Force India garage with a reported engine issue. He finally made it out with 10 minutes remaining.

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1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:37.176
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0.288s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.411s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.571s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.757s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 0.914s
7 Romain Grosjean Haas 1.128s
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1.674s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1.794s
10 Esteban Ocon Force India 1.835s
11 Sergio Perez Force India 1.877s
12 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1.898s
13 Charles Leclerc Sauber 2.106s
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2.436s
15 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 2.564s
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren 2.798s
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 2.821s
18 Lance Stroll Williams 2.941s
19 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 3.057s
20 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 4.006s