Abu Dhabi GP: Vettel tops FP3, Mercedes out of top three

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel topped the final practice session of 2016 ahead of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The German driver set a best time of 1:40.775 on new ultrasoft tyres late in the running to outpace Red Bull's Max Verstappen by 0.137s seconds.

Kimi Raikkonen was third in the second Ferrari as championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finished down in fourth and fifth after setting their best times earlier than their main rivals, who all improved late in the session.

Daniel Ricciardo was sixth in the second Red Bull, ahead of Force India duo Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.

Valtteri Bottas in the Williams and Haas' Esteban Gutierrez completed the top 10.

The session was off to a very slow start as more than half the field stayed in the pits for several minutes.

Sergio Perez and Daniil Kvyat were the only drivers to register a time in the first 10 minutes before Verstappen took to the track to take P1 with a 1:42.461 on supersofts.

Perez's teammate Nico Hulkenberg, meanwhile, was forced to stay in the garage as his mechanics worked on the car following problems that forced them to take out the engine and the gearbox.

Following yesterday's issues, Toro Rosso also had to stay in the pits initially following Kvyat's first run, as the team continued to check its wheel rims.

Hamilton's first run, on supersofts, produced a 1:42.120 that put him on top of the times, nearly three tenths of a second ahead of Ricciardo, also on the red-marked rubber.

Vettel was the first of the frontrunners to complete a run on the ultrasoft rubber, the Ferrari driver taking P1 with a 1:42.034 20 minutes in.

His time, however, was less than a tenth faster than Hamilton, who had to return to the pits after reporting a loss of power.

Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, spun his Toro Rosso at Turn 18 after finally being allowed to run following checks to the rear end of the Italian team's cars.

Vettel improved his time to a 1:41.957 before teammate Raikkonen, also on used ultrasofts, set a new benchmark of 1:41.700. Ricciardo improved as well and relegated Vettel to third.

Hulkenberg finally left his garage with some 25 minutes left on the clock following the repairs done to his Force India.

Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, complained about traffic as he attempted to complete a run on ultrasofts.

"I wanted [to do another lap], but these guys on the track, they should not be in Formula 1," the Spaniard said on the radio.

With 20 minutes left, Rosberg went quickest by over half a second with a run on new ultrasofts, but he did not last long on top, as Hamilton posted a 1:41.065 seconds later to outpace his teammate by a tenth of a second.

The problems continued for Toro Rosso, meanwhile, as both Sainz and Kvyat were forced to stay in their garage for several more minutes as the FIA's Jo Bauer checked the solutions introduced by the team to rectify the rim issues.

Vettel regained the top spot with 11 minutes to go, the Ferrari driver using new ultrasofts to post a 1:40.775, the first sub-1:41 lap of the weekend.

Verstappen moved up to second with three minutes left, just 0.137s behind Vettel, as Raikkonen also improved and went third-quickest.

Free practice 3 results

1  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 16 1'40.775    
2  Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 21 1'40.912 0.137 0.137
3  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari 14 1'40.999 0.224 0.087
4  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 15 1'41.065 0.290 0.066
5  Nico Rosberg  Mercedes Mercedes 19 1'41.168 0.393 0.103
6  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 20 1'41.831 1.056 0.663
7  Sergio Perez  Force India Mercedes 19 1'41.885 1.110 0.054
8  Nico Hulkenberg  Force India Mercedes 13 1'42.067 1.292 0.182
9  Valtteri Bottas  Williams Mercedes 19 1'42.076 1.301 0.009
10  Esteban Gutierrez  Haas Ferrari 15 1'42.354 1.579 0.278
11  Fernando Alonso  McLaren Honda 14 1'42.585 1.810 0.231
12  Jolyon Palmer  Renault Renault 17 1'42.616 1.841 0.031
13  Jenson Button  McLaren Honda 15 1'42.664 1.889 0.048
14  Felipe Massa  Williams Mercedes 20 1'42.683 1.908 0.019
15  Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 17 1'42.805 2.030 0.122
16  Kevin Magnussen  Renault Renault 17 1'43.057 2.282 0.252
17  Pascal Wehrlein  Manor Mercedes 17 1'43.145 2.370 0.088
18  Carlos Sainz Jr.  Toro Rosso Ferrari 10 1'43.301 2.526 0.156
19  Felipe Nasr  Sauber Ferrari 21 1'43.417 2.642 0.116
20  Esteban Ocon  Manor Mercedes 15 1'43.733 2.958 0.316
21  Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso Ferrari 13 1'44.105 3.330 0.372
22  Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari 20 1'44.238 3.463 0.133



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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Abu Dhabi GP
Sub-event Saturday practice
Track Yas Marina Circuit
Article type Practice report