FP3: Vettel usurps Mercedes in final practice


Sebastian Vettel claimed the final practice P1 for the 2016 championship as he edged Max Verstappen at the Yas Marina circuit.

Formula 1’s final practice session for this season got underway in the sunshine of Abu Dhabi where Mercedes did not have it all their own way.

Although Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were quickest on the supersoft tyres, edging the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, they were usurped by Vettel on the ultrasofts.

Kimi Raikkonen led the early running on the purple-marked tyres but lost out to the Mercedes pairing.

Heading out one after the other, Hamilton was a hundredth ahead of Rosberg in the first sector. Rosberg lost time overall in the second sector whereas Hamilton found it.

Rosberg crossed the line with a 1:41.168. Hamilton responded with a 1:41.065. That put him 0.103s up on his team-mate and looked fast enough to hand him the weekend’s practice hat-trick.

That was until Vettel went out for another ultrasoft run.

The Ferrar driver crossed the line with a 1:40.775 to grab the final practice P1 of this season while Verstappen went second, 0.137s off the pace with Raikkonen third.

Hamilton finished fourth, 0.290s down, while Rosberg was a further tenth off the pace. It must be noted, though, that Mercedes did not do a late ultrasoft run.

Ricciardo was sixth ahead of the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.

Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez completed the top ten.

Fernando Alonso, who was P11, was the driver to complain about the traffic as he told McLaren: “These guys on the track, they should not be in F1.”

There were more troubles for Toro Rosso with the grinder out in the garage as they worked on the wheel rims. Carlos Sainz was P17 and Daniil Kvyat P21.

1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’40.775 16 laps
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’40.912 0.137 21 laps
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’40.999 0.224  14 laps
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’41.065 0.290 15 laps
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.168 0.393 19 laps
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’41.831 1.056 20 laps
7 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’41.885 1.110 19 laps
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’42.067 1.292 13 laps
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’42.076 1.301 19 laps
10 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari 1’42.354 1.579 16 laps
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’42.585 1.810    14 laps
12 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1’42.616 1.841    17 laps
13 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1’42.664 1.889 15 laps
14 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’42.683 1.908 20 laps
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1’42.805 2.030 17 laps
16 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1’43.057 2.282 17 laps
17 Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes 1’43.145 2.370 17 laps
18 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’43.301 2.526 10 laps
19 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1’43.417 2.642 22 laps
20 Esteban Ocon Manor-Mercedes 1’43.733 2.958 15 laps
21 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’44.105 3.330 13 laps
22 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’44.238 3.463 20 laps