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Perez leads a Red Bull 1-2 in the final practice

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Perez leads a Red Bull 1-2 in the final practice

The chequered flag has flown and Perez leads Verstappen with Hamilton and Russell following. Norris is fifth, ahead of the two Ferrari drivers.

Hamilton ignores red flag, penalty looms

Lewis Hamilton is facing a Formula 1 stewards investigation for failing to slow for red flags, as Red Bull again set the pace in final practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The session was red flagged midway through the hour after Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri broke its front right wheel over the Turn 9 exit kerb and left debris on the circuit.

Hamilton overtook Lando Norris’s McLaren and a Haas approaching Turn 5, and the apparent offence was reported by Norris over team radio.

Both cars were traveling slowly off-line, while Hamilton was on a flying lap. From replays it looks as though the red light panel only just began to flash as Hamilton overtook Norris.

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The investigation will aim to establish the precise facts, but Hamilton could be penalised if he is found guilty.

PosDriverTeamTimeLaps
01Sergio PerezRed Bull1:24.98215
02Max VerstappenRed Bull1:25.13415
03Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:25.22220
04George RussellMercedes1:25.39515
05Lando NorrisMcLaren1:25.51816
06Carlos SainzFerrari1:25.63024
07Charles LeclercFerrari1:25.63123
08Daniel RicciardoMcLaren1:25.95018
09Sebastian VettelAston Martin1:26.01213
10Alex AlbonWilliams1:26.05116
11Esteban OconAlpine1:26.07317
12Fernando AlonsoAlpine1:26.07618
13Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri1:26.17019
14Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo1:26.18917
15Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri1:26.23912
16Lance StrollAston Martin1:26.29820
17Kevin MagnussenHaas1:26.35621
18Mick SchumacherHaas1:26.47319
19Guanyu ZhouAlfa Romeo1:26.48217
20Nicholas LatifiWilliams1:26.64614

Hamilton set the pace on soft tyres for much of the first part of the session, before Perez’s medium-tyred Red Bull broke into he 1m25s and leapt to the top of the timesheet just before the Gasly incident.

When the red flag period ended, both Mercedes took a turn at the top of the timesheet as teams attempted qualifying simulation runs on the soft compound rubber – but both ended up shy of Perez, who was the only driver to lap below 1m25s.

Team-mate Max Verstappen didn’t appear on track until after the red flag, and initially ran on used tyres – having effectively ‘borrowed’ a Saturday set for an extra FP2 run yesterday.

After swapping to fresh softs, he went second-fastest, 0.152s slower than Perez though Red Bull suggested Verstappen’s lap breached track limits in two places so would not count if he repeated the lines in qualifying.

After a difficult time with an oversteering Mercedes in FP2, Hamilton got within 0.25s of the pacesetting Red Bull in FP3, while George Russell was fourth in the other Mercedes, 0.173s further back.

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Norris was impressively fifth-quickest in his McLaren, ahead of both Ferraris, while Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren, Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin and Alex Albon’s Williams rounded out the top 10.

Charles Leclerc complained of oscillations from his Ferrari engine, and also suggested it was “not looking good” for Ferrari in terms of front tyre life.

Leclerc produced a late lap 0.034s quicker than team-mate Carlos Sainz, but the best of the Ferraris was still 0.589s down on Perez’s Red Bull as Ferrari’s struggles to be competitive around the Yas Marina circuit continued.

The Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso were both very competitive on the medium compound early in this session, but slipped to 11th and 12th after electing not to use the soft tyre.

Perez leads a Red Bull 1-2 in the final practice Perez leads a Red Bull 1-2 in the final practice

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