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Abu Dhabi GP: Lewis Hamilton on top as Sebastian Vettel hits trouble

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Abu Dhabi 2012Lewis Hamilton set the pace in final practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix while Formula 1 world championship leader Sebastian Vettel's preparations were severely hampered by a brake problem.

Hamilton sailed to the top of the timesheets on his first flying lap of the Yas Marina circuit in 1m44.264s, and continued to bring his marker down, the McLaren driver ending up on 1m42.130s.

That time, which came on soft-compound Pirelli tyres, was significantly only 0.148 seconds faster than he managed on medium rubber.

While Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button and Red Bull's Mark Webber were going second and third fastest, 0.290s and 0.613s adrift of the 2008 world champion respectively, Vettel was sat in the pits and looking unlikely to take to the track.

The double world champion's Red Bull mechanics were seen working busily on his RB8's braking system during the session, and completed the job to allow Vettel to take to the track with a little under five minutes of the hour remaining.

The German's only true flying lap - completed after the chequered flag had flown - put him third on the timesheets, 0.4s behind Hamilton. Significantly, he also managed to set the best time in sector two.

His lap knocked Webber back to fourth with Force India's Nico Hulkenberg fifth and Romain Grosjean sixth in the best of the Lotus cars, the Frenchman losing track time late on as his front brakes were bled in the pits.

Pastor Maldonado had a brief stint at the head of the times, but slipped back to seventh for Williams. Fernando Alonso, Vettel's closest threat for the world title, Kimi Raikkonen and Paul di Resta completed the top 10.

Raikkonen nearly collided with Webber right at the end of the session as the Red Bull, travelling slowly, turned sharply into the pits as the Lotus was closing in rapidly before the final corner.

The only other incidents of note came when Hamilton locked his right-front wheel with a few minutes remaining and ran off the track, missing Turns 4-5, and when Narain Karthikeyan ran wide at Turn 16 earlier on.

Pos  Driver              Team/Car              Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      1m42.130s            18
 2.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      1m42.420s  + 0.290s  17
 3.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1m42.614s  + 0.484s  7
 4.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1m42.743s  + 0.613s  18
 5.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes  1m42.750s  + 0.620s  19
 6.  Romain Grosjean     Lotus-Renault         1m43.015s  + 0.885s  18
 7.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Renault      1m43.064s  + 0.934s  19
 8.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1m43.133s  + 1.003s  15
 9.  Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault         1m43.184s  + 1.054s  22
10.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  1m43.338s  + 1.208s  19
11.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               1m43.480s  + 1.350s  17
12.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        1m43.571s  + 1.441s  20
13.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1m43.593s  + 1.463s  20
14.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1m43.635s  + 1.505s  19
15.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1m44.010s  + 1.880s  22
16.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m44.025s  + 1.895s  18
17.  Bruno Senna         Williams-Renault      1m44.071s  + 1.941s  19
18.  Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m44.149s  + 2.019s  19
19.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham-Renault      1m45.301s  + 3.171s  22
20.  Timo Glock          Marussia-Cosworth     1m45.879s  + 3.749s  19
21.  Charles Pic         Marussia-Cosworth     1m46.036s  + 3.906s  19
22.  Vitaly Petrov       Caterham-Renault      1m46.261s  + 4.131s  22
23.  Pedro de la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth          1m46.554s  + 4.424s  20
24.  Narain Karthikeyan  HRT-Cosworth          1m47.032s  + 4.902s  22

All timing unofficial
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