Lewis Hamilton made it three practice sessions out of three for McLaren in Abu Dhabi.
His best of 1:38.976 gave the 2008 world champion a four-tenths advantage over a chasing trio consisting of both Red Bull’s and Hamilton’s McLaren teammate, Jenson Button.
Hamilton wasn’t only quickest at the end of the session. The silver and red driver headed the time sheets while on on medium tyres, before the soft-tyred qualifying simulations began.
As the faster stints rolled out, Hamilton was demoted to 5th before returning to the summit in the final moments of the session.
Whereas the McLaren’s headed onto track straight away, both Red Bull’s waited, although for very different reasons. Sebastian Vettel – the quicker of the pair – waited for the circuit to cool somewhat, Mark Webber lost time while his RB7 received heavy set-up changes.
Webber also lost out on a charge for the top spot on his final run, blocked by Vettel and one of the Virgin’s in the final turns.
Button, too, lost time during the session, while he had several components altered on his McLaren.
There was also work being carried out on both Ferrari’s, with Fernando Alonso losing time as his mechanics worked on his experimental rear wing.
Felipe Massa also made drastic changes to his programme, changing to the Singapore specification front wing.
Unfortunately, both Williams and Lotus endured fraught sessions. At Williams, Rubens Barrichello ran only five laps before suffering an oil leak, while Jarno Trulli’s Lotus completed just an outlap when his gearbox ceased to function fully.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m38.976s 17 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m39.403s + 0.427s 18 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m39.427s + 0.451s 18 4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m39.429s + 0.453s 16 5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m39.661s + 0.685s 16 6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m40.135s + 1.159s 19 7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m40.183s + 1.207s 18 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m40.429s + 1.453s 21 9. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m40.511s + 1.535s 19 10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m40.938s + 1.962s 18 11. Bruno Senna Renault 1m41.509s + 2.533s 21 12. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m41.527s + 2.551s 21 13. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m41.566s + 2.590s 20 14. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m41.594s + 2.618s 18 15. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m41.622s + 2.646s 18 16. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m41.855s + 2.879s 18 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m42.025s + 3.049s 19 18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m43.409s + 4.433s 22 19. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m43.861s + 4.885s 5 20. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m45.262s + 6.286s 23 21. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m45.302s + 6.326s 20 22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m45.509s + 6.533s 22 23. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m45.732s + 6.756s 20 24. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1