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F1: Lewis Hamilton fastest in 3rd and final Abu Dhabi GP practice

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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.

More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Wickens undergoes successful surgery

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Just days after successfully piloting an Acura NSX around Toronto’s Exhibition Palace street course, Robert Wickens has undergone a successful surgery operation to remove hardware from his leg after a previous infection had returned, the 30-year-old Canadian revealed on social media Wednesday.

“Spinal Cord injury has such highs and lows,” Wickens said in an Instagram post prior to surgery. “One day I’m in the NSX driving the hand controlled car, and the next day I’m getting ready for surgery. Life is so unpredictable!”

Fortunately, the surgery went well for Wickens, as he later announced that his surgery had no complications. Wickens will now start six weeks of IV antibiotics before he returns to a full rehab program.

“One piece (there’s a lot) of the hardware had an infected screw,” Wickens wrote. “All hardware in my leg was removed.”

Wickens is currently recovering from spinal fracture sustained in an IndyCar crash at Pocono Raceway last August. Since his crash and diagnosis, Wickens has openly documented his recovery process through social media.

Wickens returned to the INDYCAR paddock for the first time since his accident at the season-opener in St. Petersburg in March, and his laps behind the wheel in Toronto last weekend marked the first time he had driven in public since his accident.

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