In the final practice session before the final race of the 2020 season, it was Max Verstappen who topped the timesheets in Abu Dhabi ahead of his team-mate Alexander Albon at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.
The session was quiet to say the least, as it took more than twenty minutes for a car to appear on track, largely due to the unrepresentative conditions. Drivers shied away from risking all on track before Qualifying given that the track temperature wouldn’t necessarily give them the much-needed data they yearned for.
After what felt like an eternity, cars began to emerge from the pit-tunnel to test their limits on the track. Namely, Nicholas Latifi and the two Haas F1 Team cars, closely followed by the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN duo. Latifi was the first to set a lap-time on the soft tyres and he went on to end the session a familiar nineteenth.
The rest of the field soon followed, and the session was in full swing with thirty-five minutes to go. The majority were running the red-walled tyres in order to complete Qualifying simulations, but a number of drivers decided to mix-up the strategy and use the mediums. One of whom was Lance Stroll, who set a laptime good enough for seventh overall.
The session concluded soon after with the two Red Bull’s at the top of the table with Verstappen 0.501s clear of second place Albon. Daniel Ricciardo was just 0.125s behind in third- closely followed by his Renault F1 Team partner Esteban Ocon who also showed strong pace.
McLaren F1 Team’s Lando Norris completed the top five ahead of world champion Lewis Hamilton upon his return to the cockpit, and BWT Racing Point F1 Team’s Stroll finished behind him on the weekend they hope to bag third in the constructors. Carlos Sainz Jr. finished eighth in his last outing for McLaren just 0.017s ahead of Valtteri Bottas in ninth, and F1’s newest race winner Sergio Perez rounded out the top ten.
Qualifying will start in just two hours-time, and as per usual it looks to be a fight between Hamilton, Verstappen and Bottas for pole. Mercedes have taken pole in every race bar one so far in 2020 and it would no doubt be a pleasant surprise to see that streak broken. However, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner divulged the silver arrows likely have ‘eight tenths in hand’ in the battle for pole- making it incredibly tricky for hard-charging Verstappen. As was the case yesterday, the midfield was separated by the finest of margins, so it’s all to play for later today.
Free Practice Three Timings:
|1||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:36.251||16|
|2||23||Alexander Albon||THA||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:36.752||0.501s||15|
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Renault DP World F1 Team||1:36.877||0.626s||12|
|4||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Renault DP World F1 Team||1:36.899||0.648s||15|
|5||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1:36.994||0.743s||13|
|6||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:37.012||0.761s||16|
|7||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:37.030||0.779s||16|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||McLaren F1 Team||1:37.068||0.817s||12|
|9||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:37.085||0.834s||16|
|10||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:37.227||0.976s||13|
|11||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:37.266||1.015s||17|
|12||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1:37.270||1.019s||14|
|13||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:37.371||1.120s||18|
|14||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari||1:37.728||1.477s||16|
|15||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||1:37.886||1.635s||16|
|16||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:37.900||1.649s||16|
|17||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:38.269||2.018s||16|
|18||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1:38.457||2.206s||14|
|19||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1:38.765||2.514s||17|
|20||51||Pietro Fittipaldi||BRA||Haas F1 Teamm||1:39.159||2.908s||15|