ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Five-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time in the third and final practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, ahead of qualifying later Saturday.
In hot conditions at the Yas Marina desert circuit, the Mercedes driver was about 0.3 seconds ahead of Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and 0.4 ahead of Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen had the fourth fastest time but his teammate Daniel Ricciardo pulled over to the side of the track near the end because of a water pressure issue on the car. It is Ricciardo’s last race for Red Bull before joining Renault next year, and Raikkonen’s last ride for Ferrari before switching to Sauber.
Near the end of P3, there was a heated moment between Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly and Romain Grosjean of Haas when they narrowly avoided colliding. The Frenchmen made up afterward as Grosjean went over to speak to Gasly, who patted him on the back.
Qualifying begins at 5 p.m. local time (1300 GMT) when the sun sets and the temperature cools somewhat, mirroring the conditions for Sunday’s race under floodlights.
Hamilton is eyeing an 11th GP win of the season on Sunday, while teammate Valtteri Bottas is seeking his first. Four-time F1 champion Vettel is looking to soften the blow of finishing second to Hamilton in the title race for the second straight year.
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.
IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.
This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.
INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists
IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.
“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.
“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.