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Formula One

FP3: Hamilton leads way as Ricciardo’s Red Bull breaks down

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He was off the pace on Friday, describing his opening practice performance as ‘pretty shocking’, but Lewis Hamilton bounced back in emphatic fashion in final practice at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina, topping the timesheet ahead of a resurgent Ferrari. But it was another frustrating session for Daniel Ricciardo, after his RB14 ground to halt during the closing stages of FP3…

Hamilton will head into Saturday’s qualifying as the happiest of the bunch, having finished 0.288s ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, with the sister Prancing Horse of Sebastian Vettel four tenths behind the leading pace of the Silver Arrows.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished fourth, two tenths ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, but the Dutchman’s team mate saw his session end on a sour note. Ricciardo finished sixth, but was forced to climb out of his RB14 with less than five minutes remaining, after suffering a suspected mechanical failure. His Red Bull team will now be busy investigating that problem, with just two hours until qualifying…

While the Ferrari duo gave a better account of themselves on Saturday, having also been off the pace in Friday practice, it was by no means a straightforward session for the Scuderia, with Raikkonen enduring a few mishaps. The Finn was handed a post-session reprimand by the stewards after running wide at the final corner, cutting into the pit entry then deciding against pitting and slowly re-joining across the kerbs. Incidentally, Hamilton received a reprimand for a similar incident on Friday.

Raikkonen wasn’t the only one to endure a mishap in final practice, with Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, who is replacing the experienced racer at Ferrari next season, losing the rear of his C37 into Turn 19 and rear-ending the barriers. He limped back to the pits with a damaged rear wing, with the Swiss team spending the majority of the session repairing his car.

Haas’ Romain Grosjean had no such problems keeping his car on track though, and the Frenchman heads into qualifying with momentum on his side, having finished ‘best of the rest’ once again. He did however, have trouble avoiding contact with Pierre Gasly. The pair collided at the end of the session at Yas Marina, with a piece of bodywork flying off the Toro Rosso car. That incident is also being investigated by the stewards.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg won the battle for eighth ahead of team mate Carlos Sainz, with Force India’s Esteban Ocon completing the top ten in the final practice session of 2018.

So it’s Hamilton who spearheaded Mercedes’ charge on Saturday, while Ferrari hit back after an underwhelming Friday. And for Red Bull, there will no doubt be a few concerned faces on Ricciardo’s side of the garage…

 

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