WATCH LIVE: FP3 for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix


ABU DHABI – As the 2014 Formula 1 season prepares to end on Sunday, today sees the final practice session of the year take place ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton made the best possible start to the race weekend by finishing fastest in both free practice one and free practice two on Friday, edging out Nico Rosberg at the top of the timesheets on both occasions.

After the sun had set for FP2, Hamilton showed a good long-run pace, lapping a couple of tenths quicker than Rosberg on average. Given that the Briton only needs to finish in the top two on Sunday, he is looking good for a second Formula 1 world championship.

FP3 will give Hamilton the chance to claim a clean sweep of practice sessions and press home his advantage ahead of qualifying later today at Yas Marina.

You can watch FP3 for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live on Live Extra from 5a ET today. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

With this session taking place before the sun has set, the conditions are not truly representative of what we will see in qualifying later today or the race tomorrow, but the drivers will be still be pushing hard to get everything in check ahead of this evening’s fight for pole position.

The pressure may be on Hamilton as the championship leader, but he is currently at the peak of his powers. The Yas Marina Circuit is one that he likes, and with the Mercedes W05 car suiting him perfectly this weekend, it is difficult to see him finishing outside of the top two under normal circumstances.

That said, Rosberg is not far behind. In FP2 on Friday night, he was less than one-tenth of a second shy of his teammate at the top of the standings, and appears to be waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces if his teammate hits trouble.

For Nico, FP3 will be one last chance to better his teammate and try to even up the scoreboard ahead of qualifying later today.

You can watch FP3 for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live on Live Extra from 5a ET. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.