Wearing a special gold helmet for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton scorched around Yas Marina Circuit circuit fastest of all in FP3, setting himself up as the man to beat in qualifying under floodlights this evening.
Hamilton’s lap of 1:37.176 was a quarter second better than the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel a tenth down on his teammate in third. The Reds finally turning up the wick and showing their hand for the first time this weekend.
Half a second off the benchmark pace was Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, in fourth, while his teammate Daniel Ricciardo endured a forgettable final practice session for the Blues when he was forced to park the car with a technical issue. He ended the session sixth.
Valtteri Bottas was fifth albeit three-quarters of a second adrift of his teammate in the sister Mercedes.
Seventh on the timing screens was Romain Grosjean, best of the rest in the Haas, 1.1 seconds off the top time but half a second up on ‘division two’ rivals Renault duo Nico Hulkenberg in eighth and Carlos Sainz ninth.
Grosjean was involved in a bizarre incident with fellow Frenchman Pierre Gasly. The Haas driver was dawdling on a lap late in the session, Gasly could have avoided him but appeared to steer his Toro Rosso into his rival. The pair were summoned to the FIA race stewards to explain their actions.
Esteban Ocon sat out a big chunk of the session, but got out to do seven laps (half of what most his rivals managed in the one-hour session) and claim tenth place on the timesheets, a few hundredths of a second up on his teammate Sergio Perez who was good for 11th.
Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc blotted his copybook in his final session for the team, before stepping up to Ferrari, when he lost it on a hot lap and tagged the wall with his rear wing, which snapped and required repairs.