Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton leads Bottas as Mercedes dominates FP3

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes 1-2 in the final free practice session of the 2017 season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton set the fastest lap of the weekend so far to end up 0.273s ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas at the chequered flag.

The hour-long daytime session was incident-free for the most part but featured a memorable virtual safety car interruption midway through, initiated after wind had left an umbrella on the racing line at the Turn 8 left-hander.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen set the early benchmark in the session with a 1m38.999s on ultrasofts – and despite the Finn having locked his left front tyre on entry into the Turn 7 hairpin, neither teammate Sebastian Vettel, nor Bottas could surpass him with their first attempts.

Yet Hamilton could, the Briton logging a 1m38.702s on his first try to go top. Bottas then went 0.065s quicker, but the 2017 champion strung together three session-best sectors in response for an overall laptime of 1m38.159s.

He then tried two more push laps on the same set as the session approached halfway point but couldn't improve, his earlier lap still enough for him to end the run half a second in the clear.

When the frontrunners went out again, having bolted on new ultrasofts, Raikkonen reclaimed the top spot for Ferrari by just 0.002s – with Vettel then slotting in 0.017s behind.

But Hamilton responded again, producing a 1m37.627s lap that surpassed the weekend benchmark the Briton himself had set in the twilight FP2 session on Friday.

Bottas, who narrowly avoided a major off in the final corner, then slotted into second – and with no further improvements within the top four, Raikkonen and Vettel were left half a second off the pace in third and fourth at the flag.

Daniel Ricciardo led the way for Red Bull in fifth, 0.713s off the pace and two tenths up on Max Verstappen, his teammate audibly frustrated by the handling of the RB13.

The two McLarens led the midfield pack, Fernando Alonso ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne in seventh, with Renault newcomer Carlos Sainz and Force India's Sergio Perez making up the top 10.

Williams driver Felipe Massa ended his final practice session in F1 in 11th, more than a second ahead of teammate Lance Stroll.

Toro Rosso, narrowly ahead of Renault and Haas in the fight for sixth in the constructors' standings, had a rough session – with Pierre Gasly only 18th and Brendon Hartley, who will be taking his fourth grid penalty in four F1 races, last.

Free practice 3 results

ClaDriverChassisEngineLapsTimeGap
1 united_kingdom Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 19 1'37.627  
2 finland Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes Mercedes 21 1'37.900 0.273
3 finland Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari 22 1'38.157 0.530
4 germany Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 22 1'38.174 0.547
5 australia Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 16 1'38.340 0.713
6 netherlands Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 14 1'38.587 0.960
7 spain Fernando Alonso  McLaren Honda 15 1'39.155 1.528
8 belgium Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren Honda 18 1'39.277 1.650
9 spain Carlos Sainz Jr.  Renault Renault 15 1'39.340 1.713
10 mexico Sergio Perez  Force India Mercedes 19 1'39.367 1.740
11 brazil Felipe Massa  Williams Mercedes 16 1'39.383 1.756
12 germany Nico Hulkenberg  Renault Renault 18 1'39.396 1.769
13 france Esteban Ocon  Force India Mercedes 18 1'39.500 1.873
14 denmark Kevin Magnussen  Haas Ferrari 19 1'39.831 2.204
15 france Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 19 1'40.079 2.452
16 germany Pascal Wehrlein  Sauber Ferrari 20 1'40.307 2.680
17 canada Lance Stroll  Williams Mercedes 16 1'40.572 2.945
18 france Pierre Gasly  Toro Rosso Renault 21 1'40.737 3.110
19 sweden Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari 21 1'40.789 3.162
20 new_zealand Brendon Hartley  Toro Rosso Renault 23 1'40.883 3.256
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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton
Article type Practice report