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Hamilton shades Verstappen in Abu Dhabi final practice

Lewis Hamilton tuned up for Saturday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying by posting the fastest time in the third and final practice session.

Hamilton is neck and neck with Max Verstappen going into the title-deciding race at the Yas Marina circuit.

And after topping the timesheets in Friday’s second session Hamilton once again proved the quickest at the heavily-modified track where he has won five times.

His best lap of 1min 23.274 was 0.214 quicker than Verstappen’s best effort, with Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes third at 0.751.

Qualifying starts at 17h00 (1300GMT) under floodlights and pole position is considered vital at a circuit with few overtaking opportunities.

The 22nd and final race of one of the most gripping seasons in F1 history sees Hamilton and Verstappen level on 369.5 points.

Verstappen, 24 will become the first Dutch world champion should he prevail while Hamilton, 36, is seeking an unprecedented eighth driver’s crown.

Verstappen will prevail should the pair end up all square — (one finishes ninth, the other 10th with the fastest lap) – or fail to score any points because he has won nine races to Hamilton’s eight.

Abu Dhabi third practice times

Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:23.274 (23 laps), Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-Honda) 1:23.488 (23), Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) 1:24.025 (21), Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull-Honda) 1:24.047 (21), Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:24.106 (17), Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/AlphaTauri-Honda) 1:24.223 (22), Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Honda) 1:24.251 (22), Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Ferrari) 1:24.595 (20), Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:24.733 (16), Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 1:24.758 (21), Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1:24.821 (22), Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine-Renault) 1:24.834 (18), Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) 1:25.037 (23), Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA/Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) 1:25.048 (18), Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine-Renault) 1:25.094 (19), Sebastian Vettel (GER/Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1:25.115 (25), George Russell (GBR/Williams-Mercedes) 1:25.220 (22), Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams-Mercedes) 1:25.322 (19), Mick Schumacher (GER/Haas-Ferrari) 1:25.340 (18), Nikita Mazepin (RUS/Haas-Ferrari) 1:26.332 (19).

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