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Hamilton facing potential Abu Dhabi grid penalty as Red Bull set one-two pace

Hamilton facing potential Abu Dhabi grid penalty as Red Bull set one-two pace

F1 News

Hamilton facing potential Abu Dhabi grid penalty as Red Bull set one-two pace

Hamilton facing potential Abu Dhabi grid penalty as Red Bull set one-two pace

Lewis Hamilton faces a possible grid penalty for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after being accused of failing to slow under red-flag conditions.

Mercedes driver Hamilton finished the final practice session of the campaign third quickest behind Red Bull duo Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.

The incident in question arose at the midway point of the hour-long run when race control was forced to red-flag the session due to an unusual incident involving AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly.

The French driver, in his final race for the team before joining Alpine next year, was on a flying lap when a wheel fairing machined itself off and into the right-front tyre.

That caused a puncture and the right-front wheel cover to break off, with the debris left on the racing line, forcing the session to be temporarily halted.

At the point the red flags were shown, Hamilton passed both McLaren's Lando Norris and Kevin Magnussen in his Haas on the long approach into the hairpin.

Television replays suggested the initial light panel passed by Hamilton was showing red, albeit his closing speed at the time it lit up could serve as a mitigating factor, whilst there was no light at all on a further panel at the hairpin turn itself.

Additionally, there was nothing showing on the dash of Hamilton's steering wheel, leading to the stewards needing to investigate the matter.

If Mercedes and Hamilton can argue their case then the seven-time champion will escape any punishment, otherwise, there is a possibility he could be handed a grid penalty for the grand prix.

For qualifying, Red Bull appears to be the team to beat as Perez and Verstappen were quickest, with Hamilton a quarter-of-a-second behind the Mexican who is battling for the runner-up spot in the drivers' standings behind his champion team-mate.

Perez posted a time of one minute 24.982secs, finishing 0.152s clear of the Dutch driver, with Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate George Russell third and fourth on the timesheet.

Hamilton and Russell, who finished 0.173s behind his fellow Briton, ran different-spec rear wings, with the former sporting a high-downforce configuration, whilst the latter was low downforce.

Norris, whose McLaren suffered a minor brake fire early in the session, was fifth, just over half a second off the pace.

As for Ferrari, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz struggled, with the duo both six-tenths of a second behind Perez, who will be encouraged by the situation given his battle with the Monégasque for second in the standings.

McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo was eighth, just under a second down, followed by Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel and Alex Albon in the Williams, with the Thai-British driver's team-mate Nicholas Latifi slowest, 1.664s down.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix final practice standings

1. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] 1:24.982s

2. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] +0.152s

3. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.240s

4. George Russell [Mercedes] +0.413s

5. Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.536s

6. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] +0.589s

7. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +0.623s

8. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +0.968s

9. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +1.030s

10. Alexander Albon [Williams] +1.069s

11. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] +1.091s

12. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +1.094s

13. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +1.188s

14. Valtteri Bottas [Alfa Romeo] +1.207s

15. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] +1.257s

16. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +1.316s

17. Kevin Magnussen [Haas] +1.374s

18. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +1.491s

19. Zhou Guanyu [Alfa Romeo] +1.500s

20. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +1.664s

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