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F1 Abu Dhabi GP: Vettel jumps Mercedes pair to lead into qualifying

Sebastian Vettel has laid the benchmark to beat ahead of the pole position shootout in Abu Dhabi as F1 world title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are shuffled back
Click here for full FP3 results for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has laid the benchmark to beat ahead of the pole position shootout in Abu Dhabi as F1 world title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are shuffled back for an intriguing qualifying session.

The Ferrari driver strapped on some fresh ultra-soft tyres to jump to the top of the times with a 1m 40.775s to take a 0.137s advantage over nearest challenger Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

Kimi Raikkonen similarly made a late charge with his qualifying simulation on fresh ultra-softs to take third above both Mercedes drivers.

The defending F1 world champion, who comes into the season finale trailing Rosberg by 12 points, set his qualifying simulation on older ultra-soft tyres to set a best time of 1m 41.065s – 0.290s off Vettel – but Mercedes are expected to turn up their engines ahead of qualifying having dominated on Friday at the Yas Marina Circuit.

F1 world championship leader Rosberg ended FP3 fifth and one-tenth off his team-mate with near-identical tyres with qualifying likely to play a pivotal role for the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Opting not to run a fresh tyre qualifying simulation, Daniel Ricciardo was restrained to sixth ahead of Force India duo Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, with Valtteri Bottas in the Williams and Esteban Gutierrez in the Haas completing the top ten.

Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso also completed a fresh tyre qualifying run having found a solid set-up with his McLaren to take 11th as he hunts another Q3 berth.

Jolyon Palmer nipped ahead of the outgoing pair of Jenson Button (13th) and Felipe Massa (14th), while there was yet more braking and front-end misery for Romain Grosjean who was constrained to 15th.

POINTS: The F1 Drivers' & Constructors' standings ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix F1 finale

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by Haydn Cobb



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