F1 Abu Dhabi GP: Mercedes' Rosberg stays on top in final practice

Nico Rosberg headed Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Lewis Hamilton in final practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

F1 Abu Dhabi GP: Mercedes' Rosberg stays on top in final practice

The German, who has taken pole for the last five races, clocked a best time of 1m41.856s, 0.281 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who had a messy session and failed to get a clean lap together.

Sebastian Vettel proved to be the closest challenger to Mercedes, 0.329s off the pace with Sergio Perez continuing his strong Friday form with the fourth-quickest time in the Force India.

With qualifying and the race taking place much later in the day, amid cooler temperatures, teams were limited with what they could learn in this session, in which temperatures hit around 27C.

Hamilton set the pace in the first part, when running was confined to the soft tyre, clocking a 1m43.078s on his second timed lap.

That put the three-time world champion 0.136s clear of Kimi Raikkonen with Rosberg three tenths off the pace.

Hamilton looked set to improve again but encountered traffic, while another lap was ruined when he hit the kerb at Turn 5 hard, which destabilised the car and sent him spinning before rejoining.

With 15 minutes to go, attention turned to qualifying simulations on the super-soft tyre and Rosberg set the benchmark with a 1m42.796s, 1.2s quicker than he managed on the softs.

Hamilton backed out of his first attempt on the super-softs when he made a mistake in the first sector, and had to abandon his second lap, too, when he hit the Turn 5 kerb hard again, forcing him wide.

The Briton eventually got a lap together, but he couldn't better his team-mate, who himself improved on his earlier leading time.

Raikkonen ended the session fifth, seven tenths off the pace and four tenths slower than Ferrari team-mate Vettel, with Daniel Ricciardo sixth and Nico Hulkenberg seventh.

Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz completed the top 10.

Jenson Button was the leading McLaren in 11th, 1.652s off the pace but half a second clear of team-mate Fernando Alonso, who complained on team radio about traffic on his super-soft run.

Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat had a troubled session, failing to set a time as his team worked on solving an electrical issue with his power unit.

FINAL PRACTICE RESULTS:

Pos Driver Car Time Gap
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m41.856s -
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m42.137s 0.281s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m42.185s 0.329s
4 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m42.448s 0.592s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m42.627s 0.771s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m42.726s 0.870s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m42.859s 1.003s
8 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m43.173s 1.317s
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m43.239s 1.383s
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1m43.429s 1.573s
11 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m43.508s 1.652s
12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1m43.680s 1.824s
13 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m43.718s 1.862s
14 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1m43.826s 1.970s
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1m43.928s 2.072s
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m44.014s 2.158s
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m44.325s 2.469s
18 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 1m47.283s 5.427s
19 Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari 1m47.520s 5.664s
- Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault - -

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