W as is the result of the third training value? Probably little. The last practice session before qualification will be held in Abu Dhabi in sunlight. The temperatures are higher than in the cool evening hours when the starting grid is determined. This affects the vehicle balance and the setup.
The mercury climbed to 27 degrees. In the third training session, the asphalt strip was at times more than 40 degrees. Max Verstappen grabbed the top spot. The three-time winner of the season steered his Red Bull RB15 around the 5.554-kilometer course in 1: 36.566 minutes. This is Verstappen's fastest lap this weekend so far. However, Valtteri Bottas was a good three tenths faster last night.
Bottas with next engine change
Red Bull had had problems with the tires on Friday training. In front they were too cold, in the back the Pirellis in the last sector got too hot. The racing team, based in Milton Keynes, England, focused on solving the problem. Alexander Albon was improved compared to the previous day. The Thai lost 0.361 seconds to the team captain and took fourth place.
The Mercedes landed between the two Red Bulls. This time in reverse order. Lewis Hamilton was faster than Bottas for the first time. The world champion lagged behind Verstappen only by 74 thousandths. Bottas was 89 thousandths behind the Dutchman. The three pilots completed their fastest laps on the softest tire
Before the third practice session, Mercedes again changed the engine in the car with the starting number 77. A leak in thePneumatic system forced the mechanics to do so. In addition to a fifth engine, Bottas is getting two fresh MGU-H and MGU-K electric machines and a new turbocharger. It is a change without consequences. The Finn has to start the race from the very back anyway.
Ferrari, on the other hand, decided to use the harder medium compound after a run on the soft tires at the back. According to Pirelli, this is about a second slower for one lap. Nevertheless, the red cars kept the gap within limits. Sebastian Vettel, who won in Abu Dhabi in 2009, 2010 and 2013, placed fifth. Teammate Charles Leclerc followed directly behind. Both were not half a second slower than Verstappen.
Racing Point leads midfield
Racing Point rose from second to first force in midfield. However, only Sergio Perez made the most of the RP19's potential. The Mexican drove his car to the seventh fastest lap time. In the final phase, the Mercedes V6 lost oil in the rear of the Racing Point. The team investigates. Garage neighbor Lance Stroll couldn't get past 15th position.
Renault improved. Daniel Ricciardo was Perez's first pursuer. The French factory racing team struggled with the tire temperatures on Friday. In the third training session it went better again. But watch out. The day before, the Renaults were better off in daylight than in the evening. Nico Hülkenberg only came 17th. The Rhinelander destroyed his right front tire in turn 11. A braking maneuver led to a flat brake.
Carlos Sainz in the McLaren and Pierre Gasly in the Toro Rosso made it into the top 10. Haas, however, slipped out of the top half of the table. Yesterday's accident with Bottas cost the team the only experimental underbody that had worked very well. From Saturday, Romain Grosjean will have to drive with an old underbody.