Hamilton two tenths faster than Verstappen in final Abu Dhabi practice

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix third practice

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Lewis Hamilton led championship rival Max Verstappen by just over two tenths in the final practice session of the 2021 season ahead of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s quickest time of a 1’23.274 on soft tyres was enough to see him top the times, as Verstappen visibly struggled with the balance of his Red Bull. Valtteri Bottas was third quickest and Sergio Perez fourth as the title-contending teams swept the top places.

Both championship contenders wasted no time in heading out onto the track to make the most of the final hour of free practice of the season. Verstappen was immediately on the pace, posting a 1’24’997 on the medium tyres, before Hamilton used soft tyres on his first lap to go almost six tenths faster than his rival.

Perez came very close to matching his team mate’s personal best lap time on the medium tyres, while Bottas in the second Mercedes moved to the top of the timesheets with a 1’24.025.

Hamilton used the soft tyres to improve to a 1’23.274, comfortably the fastest time of the weekend and one-and-a-half seconds quicker than Verstappen.

Verstappen returned to the garage, where Red Bull mechanics focused their attention on the RB16B’s rear wing. When he returned to the circuit, he was less than impressed about the balance on his push laps.

“It just doesn’t turn into turn six,” he reported. “It’s unbelievable.”

Despite his lack of confidence in his car, Verstappen was still able to improve to just over two tenths adrift of Hamilton on a 1’23’488. He later abandoned another lap after catching a snap of oversteer through the long turn nine.

With drivers focusing on single-lap pace, complaints of traffic began to fill the radio waves around the Yas Marina circuit. Nikita Mazepin was caught out through turn three when Hamilton exited the pitlane in front of him, with the Haas driver choosing to take to the run-off on the outside of turn four to avoid hitting the Mercedes.

No one at the front was able to improve in the closing minutes, with Hamilton ending the session quickest. Verstappen was two tenths from his rival, with Bottas and Perez both half a second slower than the title contender.

Lando Norris was fifth fastest for McLaren, with Yuki Tsunoda quicker than team mate Pierre Gasly in sixth. Carlos Sainz Jnr, Daniel Ricciardo and Charles Leclerc rounded out the top 10.

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix third practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’23.27423
233Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’23.4880.21423
377Valtteri BottasMercedes1’24.0250.75121
411Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’24.0470.77321
54Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’24.1060.83217
622Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’24.2230.94922
710Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’24.2510.97722
855Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’24.5951.32120
93Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’24.7331.45916
1016Charles LeclercFerrari1’24.7581.48421
1118Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’24.8211.54722
1231Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’24.8341.56018
137Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’25.0371.76323
1499Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’25.0481.77418
1514Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’25.0941.82019
165Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’25.1151.84125
1763George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’25.2201.94622
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’25.3222.04819
1947Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’25.3402.06618
209Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’26.3323.05819

Third practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’23.274

+0.214 Max Verstappen – 1’23.488

+0.751 Valtteri Bottas – 1’24.025

+0.773 Sergio Perez – 1’24.047

+0.832 Lando Norris – 1’24.106

+0.949 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’24.223

+0.977 Pierre Gasly – 1’24.251

+1.321 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’24.595

+1.459 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’24.733

+1.484 Charles Leclerc – 1’24.758

+1.547 Lance Stroll – 1’24.821

+1.560 Esteban Ocon – 1’24.834

+1.763 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’25.037

+1.774 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’25.048

+1.820 Fernando Alonso – 1’25.094

+1.841 Sebastian Vettel – 1’25.115

+1.946 George Russell – 1’25.220

+2.048 Nicholas Latifi – 1’25.322

+2.066 Mick Schumacher – 1’25.340

+3.058 Nikita Mazepin – 1’26.332

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

PosDriverCarFP1FP2FP3Fri/Sat diffTotal laps
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’25.3551’23.6911’23.274-0.41773
2Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’25.0091’24.3321’23.488-0.84470
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1’25.2051’24.0831’24.025-0.05876
4Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’26.0251’24.0341’24.834+0.871
5Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’25.3631’24.4001’24.047-0.35370
6Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’26.1231’25.1531’24.106-1.04769
7Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’25.3781’24.5321’24.223-0.30970
8Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’25.8221’24.9401’24.251-0.68976
9Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’25.6251’24.4951’25.094+0.59971
10Charles LeclercFerrari1’25.8461’24.5571’24.758+0.20169
11Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’25.8861’24.8441’24.595-0.24974
12Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’26.6761’24.9591’24.733-0.22670
13Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’26.6081’25.3851’24.821-0.56473
14Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’26.1891’25.4401’25.037-0.40370
15Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’26.4091’25.1081’25.048-0.0669
16Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’26.0071’25.1951’25.115-0.0877
17George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’25.5491’25.220-0.32951
18Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’27.4871’25.6871’25.322-0.36567
19Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’27.6981’25.7841’25.340-0.44468
20Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’28.3051’26.3361’26.332-0.00466
21Jack AitkenWilliams-Mercedes1’27.48126

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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29 comments on “Hamilton two tenths faster than Verstappen in final Abu Dhabi practice”

  1. Hamilton blocked Mazepin again. Possible 3rd reprimand and 10 place grid drop ?!

    1. i dont think so. he was just existing the pits. leaving the track to the left was probably the safest thing to do

      1. He was on the racing line. Bad info from bono, again!
        If stewarding was consistent this could have been a stupid action.

        1. well the pit exit goes onto the racing line. could he have moved to the right and out of Mazepin’s way? maybe, but he only had 1-2 seconds to make the call

        2. If stewarding was consistent – VER would have been black flagged. You know it.

          1. @theswift Do everyone a favor and stop
            Watching F1

      2. That is no excuse. He could either slow down and go on track behind Mazepin or speed up and let him past before turn 5. It happend way past the pit exit and he was still driving like grandpa. The 80kmh limit ends before the tunnel….

        1. at least he didnt slam the brakes, did he?

    2. No, they will not interfere with the championship.
      Hamilton and Verstappen will be able to do almost anything to other drivers without repercussion. Only against each other they have to watch out.

      1. I wonder why earlier in the championship it’s not considered ‘interfering with the championship’ when points gained or lost in the first race count just as much as in the last race!

        1. That’s indeed not sensible or logical, but that’s what FIA does.
          And that’s why the regimes that do not care for human rights pay big bucks to have the last races in the season.

        2. @sihrtogg It’s all about perception. A penalty now is seen in a different light by fans and pundits than one earlier in the season. The stewards don’t want to walk out of this race being hurled with abuse by 50% of the fanbase.

    3. Not a chance. Drivers block each other almost every weekend by accident im practice and it very rarely even gets looked at. Last week was different due to the blind corners and ultra high speeds.

  2. To me, it seems almost certain that Mercedes will make Bottas start on the softs (rightly so) to try and jump Verstappen at the start. But the big question is, will Max do the same to Hamilton? Red Bull did their long runs on softs, they did their practice starts on softs from the dirty side of the grid, perhaps they expect to qualify 2nd and try to get track position like that. Or maybe it’s just mind games, but surely this would hinder them more than helping them if they sacrificed long-running on the mediums.

    1. Interestingly too, did Mercedes have any long runs today? Their long runs yesterday were scary slow. I know the engines were turned down but they were losing in all corners to RB as well

      1. lexusreliability?
        11th December 2021, 12:22

        Scary slow? MUst have been watching different sessions. Max was on the softs and Hamilton was on the mediums. Also you don’t know what fuel loads and engine maps they were running.

    2. @mashiat
      I don’t think they will, because if I’m not entirely mistaken, both Mercedes drivers have just 3 sets of softs left for qualifying and the race. Considering they need two fresh sets for Q3, Bottas would have to use mediums in Q1. I don’t think that’s worth the risk for Mercedes.
      But I think RB will almost certainly put Pérez on softs and possibly Verstappen as well, because they have saved an additional set of the softs, compared to Mercedes.
      Verstappen’s long run on the softs yesterday was acutally pretty decent, lapping consistenty in the 1:28s, so I guess they feel quite comfortable on that tyre.

      1. @srga91 Will they not get an extra set of softs for Q3? Unless you’ve considered that in your calculations.

  3. This is still with Hamilton’s old engine?
    What will the difference be with the new engine from Brazil?

    1. They will change the engine overnight … so this is the race engine. They won’t change it 2h before qualy in case something goes wrong

    2. This is still with Hamilton’s old engine?

      I don’t think so because with more or less 2 hours left to the most important qualifying session in Hamilton’s life, they won’t risk anything by fitting a new engine. More likely it’s Brazil engine but was detuned. Mercedes normally turn up their PU in Q2.

  4. It looks like its over for Max and Redbull. The Mercedes have serious pace. It going to be a cake walk for Lewis.

    I am happy for Max though, even though he wont win the championship, he showed the hype around him is real.

  5. It’s looking ugly for RedBull. I understand they are 100% focused on race setup, but at this point they should be slightly ahead Mercedes before qualifying. Wolff will turn their engines up to “normal” and slice 0.4 sec.
    This is sounding more like Prost-Senna1989 or MSC-Hill 1994
    (crash at the end of the race) then Senna-Prost 1990 (crash at the start of the race) but neither of them will let the other by without a crash.
    Either way, this championship is now Hamilton’s to loose. Mercedes already have their constructors title bagged.

    1. “Only facts” lol. Who’s on pole?

      1. I was surprised by that too, I thought as late as when q3 started that mercedes had the upper hand in quali, but in any case we still have to see the start, reliability and race pace, especially with red bulls starting on soft.

  6. Mercedes are looking very strong for qualifying. They usually gain more between FP3 and qualifying than the RB, so seeing them already on top should be a warning for RB.
    It seems like RB are more focused on their race setup anyway, unlike last week. I expect them to be stronger in the race than in qualifying.
    It also seems as they will start on softs, while Mercedes are more likely to start on mediums (at least Hamilton should). They might be planning on using the extra grip of the softs to get ahead of the Mercedes within the first three laps and control the race from the front.

  7. The real question is who is responsible for “Decider in the Desert”? That’s bad.

  8. I wonder if a 7 times world champion or a guy seeking his first world championship will make a mistake in qualifying? Which is more likely to?

    1. I guess we know by now ;-)

Comments are closed.