Max Verstappen closed out practice for the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix quickest ahead of team-mate Alexander Albon, as Lewis Hamilton could only finish sixth for Mercedes.
The final practice session of the 2020 season saw Verstappen lead Red Bull back to the top of the timesheets, having trailed the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton on Friday evening.
Following a 20-minute lull at the start of the session that saw no drivers take to the track, Verstappen was able to claim top spot with his first run on the soft tyres.
Verstappen shaved a further four-tenths of a second off his best lap time during a first qualifying simulation, outpacing Hamilton by three-tenths of a second, with Bottas sitting third after his initial effort.
After a second qualifying run saw Verstappen fall 0.011 seconds shy of his best time after a lock-up, the Dutchman managed to gain half a second with his final lap of the day.
The time of 1m36.251s comfortably gave Verstappen top spot in the final classification ahead of Albon in the sister Red Bull car, who made a late improvement to finish half a second off his team-mate despite reporting “insane” understeer.
Renault pair Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon took third and fourth respectively, separated by just 0.022 seconds, while Lando Norris finished fifth for McLaren.
Mercedes opted against doing any late qualifying simulations with either Hamilton or Bottas, meaning they were shuffled down to sixth and ninth place respectively, separated by Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.
Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10 for Racing Point ahead of AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat. Ferrari’s anticipated struggles continued as Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel finished 12th and 14th, with Pierre Gasly sandwiched between them in the final classification.
George Russell continued to adjust to life back at Williams, finishing 15th thanks to a late improvement on softs that put him almost a second clear of team-mate Nicholas Latifi, who ended up 19th.
Alfa Romeo drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen finished 16th and 17th respectively, followed by Kevin Magnussen in the Haas.
Pietro Fittipaldi propped up the timesheets in 20th for Haas, lapping more than seven-tenths of a second off Magnussen’s time.
Abu Dhabi FP3 result
|1||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1m36.251s|
|2||Alexander Albon||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||0.501s|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault DP World F1 Team||0.626s|
|4||Esteban Ocon||Renault DP World F1 Team||0.648s|
|5||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team||0.743s|
|6||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||0.761s|
|7||Lance Stroll||BWT Racing Point F1 Team||0.779s|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team||0.817s|
|9||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||0.834s|
|10||Sergio Perez||BWT Racing Point F1 Team||0.976s|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1.015s|
|12||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari||1.019s|
|13||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1.120s|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari||1.477s|
|15||George Russell||Williams Racing||1.635s|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||1.649s|
|17||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||2.018s|
|18||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||2.206s|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Racing||2.514s|
|20||Pietro Fittipaldi||Haas F1 Team||2.908s|
The Autosport 70 special, celebrating the best of motorsport, is no longer available to buy online, but is available to new magazine subscribers. To subscribe, please go to: autosportmedia.com