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Hamilton dominates final practice ahead of title showdown at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The Mercedes driver went into the season-ending race tied level with Max Verstappen at the top of the standings.

Lewis Hamilton was quickest in the final practice session.
Lewis Hamilton was quickest in the final practice session.
Image: Antonin Vincent

LEWIS HAMILTON LAID down a marker in his quest for a record eighth Formula One world championship as he set a scintillating pace in final practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver went into the season-ending race at the Yas Marina Circuit tied level with Max Verstappen at the top of the standings.

But, having gone fastest in Friday’s second practice, the Brit was untouchable as he prepared his shot at a 104th pole position of his career.

Hamilton’s time of one minute, 23.274 seconds had him in a different league for much of the session before Verstappen managed to get within 0.214 seconds.

Verstappen was clearly unhappy, swearing and complaining over the team radio as he failed to come close to Hamilton’s electric pace.

Hamilton could even afford a scruffy attempt and a final effort on flat-spotted tyres as a couple of errors from his Red Bull rival meant he would get no closer.

The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was third fastest with only the two title protagonists able to dip below the one minute 24 seconds mark.

Sergio Perez in the sister Red Bull was fourth ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris, with Yuki Tsunoda sixth for AlphaTauri, ahead of team-mate Pierre Gasly.

Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren was ninth, sandwiched by the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, respectively.

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Hamilton and Verstappen go head-to-head this weekend, with the 2021 Formula One world championship on the line.

The pair have fought tooth and nail across 21 grands prix leading into Sunday’s final and are tied on 369.5 points at the top of the standings.

hamilton verstappen

Here’s the tale of the tape over their respective F1 careers ahead of the title showdown:

Hamilton v Verstappen

36 Age 24

British Nationality Dutch

287 Races 140

McLaren, Mercedes Teams Toro Rosso, Red Bull

103 Poles 12

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103 Wins 19

181 Podiums 59

4147.5 Points 1531.5

59 Fastest Laps 15

Championships 0

2021 Wins 9

15 2021 Podiums 17

369.5 2021 points 369.5

BTL 5

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