Sergio Perez beats Max Verstappen in final training Abu Dhabi | Formula 1 news


Sergio Perez outsprinted Red Bull teammate and world champion Max Verstappen by setting the fastest time in Saturday’s third and final practice session ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Mexican, whose relationship with the two-time world champion is strained after the latter’s refusal to follow team orders and let him pass in last Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, clocked a best lap of 1 minute, 24.982 seconds. This was enough to put him 0.152 seconds ahead of the Dutchman.

The Mercedes duo, seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton and last Sunday’s Interlagos winner George Russell, maintained their fine form at the end of the season, finishing third and fourth respectively.

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Hamilton was just two-tenths off the pace and Russell four-tenths, but the former faced a visit to the stewards’ office after being reported for failing to slow under a red flag.

Lando Norris was fifth for McLaren, breaking the team order ahead of the two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

Daniel Ricciardo finished eighth in what is his last race weekend with McLaren.

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Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel – who retires as soon as his race is held on Sunday – and his Aston Martin team-mate Lance Stroll came out of the pit lane first.

The Ferrari duo quickly set the pace, Sainz and Leclerc exchanging fastest laps – a good result on Sunday could ease the pressure on team principal Mattia Binotto, whose future remains the subject of speculation.

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Hamilton then went on top ahead of Russell as Verstappen delayed his entry.

Perez responded by taking the initiative for Hamilton and Leclerc.

Halfway through the session, Pierre Gasly hit a curb and damaged his right front wheel, the debris causing a brief red flag stoppage for four minutes.

It was during this stoppage that Hamilton was reported to the stewards for not slowing into turn five.

Hamilton seemed unperturbed and continued as the fastest man, riding on soft tyres, ahead of Perez and Verstappen, who had joined the action after waiting for the track to cool.

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With 16 minutes remaining, Russell took the lead with Verstappen second, but it was a close battle between the Mercedes and Red Bull cars for Ferrari – promising a fierce suspension in qualifying later on Saturday.

Perez, brimming with spirit after a stormy week, returned to the top with 12 minutes to go before the Dutchman emerged on another set of softs to take second.

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