Perez tops final Abu Dhabi practice

Andy Hone/Motorsport Images

Perez tops final Abu Dhabi practice

Formula 1

Perez tops final Abu Dhabi practice


Sergio Perez led a Red Bull one-two in final practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in a close contest with Mercedes.

In a quiet session in unrepresentative daytime conditions Perez set the benchmark at 1m 24.982s on a set of soft tires to beat teammate Max Verstappen by 0.152s.

Lewis Hamilton was a close third for Mercedes at 0.24s off the pace. The Brit set 17 laps for the session, among the most of any driver, as he sought to verify overnight fixes targeted at a unbalanced W13 on Friday.

His progressive session may be spoiled by a potential penalty for failing to slow and appearing to pass during a red flag intervention to collect some stray bodywork from the circuit, for which he will be investigated after the session.

His teammate, George Russell, was 0.173s further back. The Sao Paulo Grand Prix race winner was running a lower downforce wing specification to his teammate, and though that kept him quicker than Hamilton in the first two sectors, he lost it all and more in the final split, where slower corners dominate.

Lando Norris was fourth at more than half a second off the pace despite his front-left brake smoking early in the session.

Ferrari teammates Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz followed at 0.589s and 0.623s off the pace respectively after a painful final hour of practice.

Leclerc improved late but complained that his soft tires were expiring only four corners into the lap, and while the sunny conditions won’t have helped, the SF-75 was suffering high degradation on Friday also.

The Monegasque also told his team he was feeling engine oscillations off throttle. His car was even spotted by cameras bottoming out and momentarily snapping from his control through turn 2 early in the session.

Daniel Ricciardo was eighth for McLaren ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Williams driver Alex Albon, who lost some bodywork late in the session running over some curbs.

Alpine teammates Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso were 11th and 12th. The Frenchman unusually triggered yellow flags while letting faster drivers through at turn 14 – he slowed so much the marshals appeared to think he was stopping with a problem.

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas followed in 13th and 14th.

Pierre Gasly had his running interrupted when his front-right wheel deflector failed as he ran over the curbs exiting Turn 9, forcing him back to pit lane and triggering a red flag.

Lance Stroll ended the session 16th ahead of Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher.

Zhou Guanyu and Nicholas Latifi propped up the order in 19th and 20th.