Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel set the quickest time of final practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finishing ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg slipped to fourth and fifth respectively.
The title-contending Mercedes pair had comfortably topped both opening practice sessions but on a hot, sunny afternoon at the Yas Marina Circuit, both were eclipsed in final practice as Vettel finished 0.290s clear of Hamilton and almost four tenths ahead of Rosberg.
Vettel was joined in beating the Mercedes pair by Verstappen and Raikkonen. The Red Bull driver spent most of the session testing the durability of the re-banded supersoft tyres, but late in the session bolted on the ultrasoft tyres and jumped straight to second place behind Vettel with a lap of 1:40.912. That was just over a tenths adrift of Vettel but more importantly the Dutch driver finished 0.153 ahead of fourth-placed Hamilton.
Raikkonen, meanwhile, took some time to get into his stride, the Ferrari driver not setting a timed lap until well into the session. His first effort put him sixth before he briefly held P1.
Raikkonen then dropped back to P4 as the Mercedes drivers moved to the ultrasofts, but late in the session he too went for another run on the purple-banded tyres and moved ahead of Hamilton.
Neither Mercedes driver appeared happy with his car, with Rosberg complaining about response on his practice start being poor and Hamilton voicing dissastisfaction with the brakes of his car, saying that he was “the front right isn’t working properly”.
With Rosberg fifth, sixth place went to the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo. As has become his pattern, the Australian undertook his qualifying sim earlier than most and set time of 1:41.831 that left him well off the pace. He finished a full second behind Vettel and more than 0.6s behind Rosberg.
Sergio Perez finished in seventh place for Force India, with team-mate Nico Hulkenberg 0.182 further back in eighth. The German recovered well from a long spell in the garage at the start of the session.
Behind the Force Indias, ninth place went to Williams Valtteri Bottas and the top 10 order was rounded out by Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez, who is this weekend making his final appearance for the American team.
2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:40.775 16
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:40.912 21
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:40.999 14
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:41.065 15
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:41.168 19
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:41.831 20
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1:41.885 19
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:42.067 13
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:42.076 19
10 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:42.354 16
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:42.585 14
12 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:42.616 18
13 Jenson Button McLaren 1:42.664 15
14 Felipe Massa Williams 1:42.683 20
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:42.805 17
16 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:43.057 17
17 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:43.145 17
18 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:43.301 10
19 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:43.417 22
20 Esteban Ocon Manor 1:43.733 15
21 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:44.105 13
22 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:44.238 20