Abu Dhabi: Hamilton beats Verstappen in FP3 to set up qualifying duel

11-12-2021 11:00 | Updated: 11-12-2021 11:03
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Abu Dhabi: Hamilton beats Verstappen in FP3 to set up qualifying duel

Lewis Hamilton has topped the third free practice session in Abu Dhabi. The seven-time World Champion beat his rival by two-tenths but made multiple mistakes in the 60 minutes. The Brit reported his tyres were overheating. Max Verstappen finished second, with Valtteri Bottas rounding out the top three. 

Hamilton set a blistering lap time in the first 30 minutes of the session but was unable to replicate this as the track temperature started to reduce. Verstappen decided to complete long runs on the medium tyre before turning up his engine for qualifying runs in the final 15 minutes. Practice in 2021 is complete and now just two sessions remain to determine who will win the World Championship. 

Ferrari seemingly had control in their battle with McLaren, but Lando Norris submitted a time that put him fourth fastest in this session. AlphaTauri are well on the pace, with both Red Bull juniors challenging Sergio Perez's best time. On his final run, the Mexican beat the two AlphaTauri drivers. The session was relatively incident-free. 

How it happened

Track temperature for the third and final free practice session sat at 39c. It'll be much cooler than this during qualifying because the sun will go down and the floodlights will take over. Unlike usual in FP3, Bottas, Hamilton and Verstappen made appearances on the track within the opening five minutes. Mercedes had to apply a late brake change to Hamilton's car, but the job was completed three minutes before the start of the session. 

Whilst Mercedes only did four laps combined in the opening 12 minutes, Verstappen had completed six laps and was keen to get his eye in. Hamilton was first to complete a lap on the soft tyres which put him ahead of his rival by 0.587 seconds. 

At the 30 minute mark, Verstappen and Perez set almost identical lap times. This could suggest that Red Bull fueled Verstappen's car to add extra weight and therefore hide their pace. But then Hamilton fitted another set of softs and even with a snap of oversteer, the Brit went seven-tenths faster than Bottas and 1.5 seconds faster than Verstappen. 

Once again in this season, Red Bull mechanics were looking at Verstappen's rear wing. The mechanics decided to change Verstappen's rear wing for what was reportedly the same spec piece. Red Bull have had this problem a number of times this season. They put Verstappen out on the circuit with a fresh set of soft tyres and he edged closer to Hamilton's best time. 

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