Hamilton on top in third practice

Lewis Hamilton (AP)
Lewis Hamilton (AP)

Abu Dhabi - Newly crowned five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton topped the times for Mercedes in Saturday's third and final free practice ahead of Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

As the high temperatures at the Yas Marina circuit affected tyre behaviour and wear, the 33-year-old Briton clocked a best lap in one minute and 37.176 seconds to outpace Sauber-bound Finn Kimi Raikkonen, in his final race with Ferrari, by 0.288 seconds. 

Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel was third fastest in the second Ferrari, four-tenths off the pace, ahead of Max Verstappen in the leading Red Bull and Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes. 

Renault-bound Daniel Ricciardo was sixth in the second Red Bull, but his session was brought to an abrupt early end when he pulled off and parked following what seemed to be a gearbox or engine problem. 

It signalled another setback for the luckless Australian who has this year had eight race retirements, more than Hamilton in the last five years with Mercedes. Ricciardo, winner of two races this season, is due to start his 150th race on Sunday. 

Frenchman Romain Grosjean was seventh for Haas ahead of German Nico Hulkenberg and Spaniard Carlos Sainz in the two Renaults and French protege Esteban Ocon, in his final weekend with Force India. 

Grosjean was involved in a late clash with compatriot Pierre Gasly, who replaces Ricciardo at Red Bull next season. The pair came together when Gasly gesticulated at Grosjean and drove straight on, his Toro Rosso glancing off the Haas as bodywork parts flew off. Neither man was hurt. 

Times Saturday in the third practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: 

1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:37.176, 2. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari) 1:37.464, 3. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) 1:37.587, 4. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-TAG Heuer) 1:37.747, 5. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) 1:37.933, 6. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull-TAG Heuer) 1:38.090, 7. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas-Ferrari) 1:38.304, 8. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Renault) 1:38.850, 9. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Renault) 1:38.970, 10. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Racing Point Force India) 1:39.011, 11. Sergio Perez (MEX/Racing Point Force India) 1:39.053, 12. Brendon Hartley (NZL/Toro Rosso-Honda) 1:39.074, 13. Charles Leclerc (MON/Sauber-Ferrari) 1:39.282, 14. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari) 1:39.612, 15. Pierre Gasly (FRA/Toro Rosso-Honda) 1:39.740, 16. Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren) 1:39.974, 17. Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber-Ferrari) 1:39.997, 18. Lance Stroll (CAN/Williams-Mercedes) 1:40.117, 19. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL/McLaren) 1:40.233, 20. Sergey Sirotkin (RUS/Williams-Mercedes) 1:41.182

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