Max Verstappen quickest in tight final Bahrain GP practice

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Max Verstappen rallied following a tough Friday to lead the final Formula 1 practice session ahead of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday morning.

Verstappen lost running on Friday after hitting debris on-track, but responded with an impressive qualifying simulation late on that saw him post a best lap of 1:32.194.

The time was enough to give Verstappen top spot by one-tenth of a second ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finishing a further four-tenths adrift in P3.

The unrepresentative conditions in FP3 – the session is held much earlier in the day than qualifying or the race – prompted many to limit their running, with a flurry of late qualifying laps injecting some life into final practice.

Valtteri Bottas was able to rise up to fourth for Mercedes, 0.004 seconds shy of Vettel, edging clear of fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen, who was fifth in the second Ferrari.

Felipe Massa finished sixth for Williams ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who was caught out by a high tail-wind on a lap, while Nico Hulkenberg was eighth for Renault. Toro Rosso rounded out the top 10 with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat.

The session largely went by without incident, the only stoppage coming after a crash for Romain Grosjean at the exit of Turn 4 that sparked a short red flag period.

Qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix is live on the NBC Sports app and via live stream from 11am ET, before being shown tape-delayed at 12:30pm ET on NBCSN.

Hamilton tops second Abu Dhabi F1 practice with new track record

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Lewis Hamilton swept to the top of the timesheets in second Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday evening, beating Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by one-tenth of a second.

Hamilton trailed Vettel through the daytime-run opening practice session, but managed to strike back by recording a new track record at the Yas Marina Circuit for Mercedes.

Hamilton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:37.877 to finish one-tenth of a second clear of Vettel at the checkered flag, appearing to have an edge across a single lap on the ultra-soft tire.

Red Bull threw its hat into the ring as a possible rival for pole through Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the session third-fastest, three-tenths of a second back from Hamilton at the head of the field.

Kimi Raikkonen ended FP2 in fourth place in the sister Ferrari, finishing within half a second of Hamilton, and managed to edge out fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who was a further two-tenths back in P5.

Max Verstappen failed to get in a quick flying lap during FP2, ending the session one second down in P6 for Red Bull.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon’s tight intra-team fight at Force India continued through FP2 as the pair were separated by just 0.01 seconds, taking seventh and eighth respectively to finish as the leading midfield drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 for Renault and McLaren, with Felipe Massa following in 11th for Williams on his final Friday appearance in F1.

Massa was fortunate to avoid an accident with Ricciardo during the final 15 minutes of the session after a mix up at the hairpin when the Brazilian tried to get a wider line for the back straight.

Running in Abu Dhabi continues with final practice at Yas Marina on Saturday morning from 5am ET on the NBC Sports app, followed by qualifying at 8am ET on NBCSN.