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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice: Verstappen edges Mercedes F1 duo

Max Verstappen Red Bull Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2019

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.

The Red Bull driver improved with less than five minutes to go to deny Mercedes a 1-2 in FP3, heading Lewis Hamilton by 0.074 seconds 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, though 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 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 team-mate Alex Albon backed up Verstappen in fourth, 0.361s off the pace and ahead of the medium-shod Ferraris.

An early run for Albon had been ruined in a near-miss with Nico Hulkenberg's Renault, 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 drivers have been summoned to see the stewards.

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 was forced to use an extra set in FP2, after he had hit the wall and damaged the right-rear wheel and tyre.

Sergio Perez Racing Point Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2019

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 Jr and Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly made it four team in the final four places in the top 10.

FP3 times

PosDriverCarTimeGapLaps
1Max VerstappenRed Bull/Honda1m36.566s-15
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m36.640s0.074s18
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1m36.655s0.089s17
4Alexander AlbonRed Bull/Honda1m36.927s0.361s18
5Sebastian VettelFerrari1m36.975s0.409s15
6Charles LeclercFerrari1m37.010s0.444s16
7Sergio PerezRacing Point/Mercedes1m37.516s0.950s16
8Daniel RicciardoRenault1m37.615s1.049s14
9Carlos Sainz Jr.McLaren/Renault1m37.691s1.125s22
10Pierre GaslyToro Rosso/Honda1m37.736s1.170s17
11Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari1m37.768s1.202s12
12Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Honda1m37.963s1.397s18
13Lando NorrisMcLaren/Renault1m38.100s1.534s18
14Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari1m38.198s1.632s12
15Lance StrollRacing Point/Mercedes1m38.462s1.896s16
16Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo/Ferrari1m38.514s1.948s21
17Nico HulkenbergRenault1m38.580s2.014s14
18Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo/Ferrari1m38.782s2.216s18
19George RussellWilliams/Mercedes1m39.206s2.640s16
20Robert KubicaWilliams/Mercedes1m39.859s3.293s17

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