Max Verstapen edged Lewis Hamilton by just under eight hundredths of a second to top the final practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Valtteri Bottas third. In a tight session the final three were covered by less than a tenth of a second.
Hamilton set the early pace in the session with a lap of 1:37.699, before Verstappen moved ahead with his first lap of the afternoon, a 1:37.202 that put him half a second clear of the Mercedes driver.
Hamilton responded, however, and the six-time champion became the first to dip below 1m37s to reclaim P1. His lap of 1:36.877 kept him in top stop ahead of team-mate Bottas ahead of the qualifying simulations.
When the teams moved to new soft tyres for those runs, Hamilton made a small improvement to 1:36.640 to apparently solidify his hold on top spot. Verstappen, though, had the measure of the Mercedes in first two sectors and though the Red Bull driver lost half a second to Hamilton in the final sector, his time was good enough to take him 0.074s of a second clear of the Briton. Bottas then made a big improvement late on to close to 1500ths of a second off Hamilton.
Alex Albon was fourth-quickest in the second Red Bull, 0.361s behind his pacesetting team-mate. The Thai driver might have got slightly closer had not his final flying lap been compromised when he came across slow Haas cars in the final sector.
Sebastian Vettel was fifth quickest in the session, four tenths behind Verstappen, with Ferrari team-mate three hundredths of a second further back.
Both Ferrari drivers chose not to take on new sets of softs in the second half of the session, however, and both Vettel and Leclerc set their best laps on medium compound Pirellis.
Behind the Ferrari pair, Sergio Pérez was best of the best for Racing Point, with the Mexican finishing as the last driver within a second of Verstappen. The Racing Point driver took seventh place five hundredths of a second ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Carlose Sainz was ninth for McLaren and the final top 10 position was taken by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly who finished 1.17s behind Verstappen.
2019 FIA Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:36.566 15 207.054
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.640 0.074 18 206.895
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:36.655 0.089 17 206.863
4 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing 1:36.927 0.361 18 206.283
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:36.975 0.409 15 206.180
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:37.010 0.444 16 206.106
7 Sergio Pérez Racing Point 1:37.516 0.950 16 205.037
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:37.615 1.049 14 204.829
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 1:37.691 1.125 22 204.669
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:37.736 1.170 17 204.575
11 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:37.768 1.202 12 204.508
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:37.963 1.397 18 204.101
13 Lando Norris McLaren 1:38.100 1.534 18 203.816
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:38.198 1.632 12 203.613
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1:38.462 1.896 16 203.067
16 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo 1:38.514 1.948 21 202.959
17 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 1:38.580 2.014 14 202.824
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:38.782 2.216 18 202.409
19 George Russell Williams 1:39.206 2.640 16 201.544
20 Robert Kubica Williams 1:39.859 3.293 17 200.226