Abu Dhabi: Lewis Hamilton's fine form here continued on Saturday as he posted the fastest time in his McLaren in the third and final free practice session at the Yas Marina circuit ahead of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 26-year-old 2008 world champion clocked a fastest lap of one minute and 38.976 seconds to sweep four-tenths of a second clear of nearest rival double champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull.
Vettel is seeking to equal Briton Nigel Mansell’s record of 14 pole positions in a season when qualifying takes place later on Saturday, but on this evidence looked to have his work cut out.
Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber was third fastest ahead of Briton Jenson Button in the second McLaren, two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and sixth-placed German Nico Rosberg for Mercedes.
Brazilian Felipe Massa was seventh in the second Ferrari ahead of German Adrian Sutil and his Force India team-mate British rookie Paul Di Resta with seven-time champion German Michael Schumacher 10th in the second Mercedes.
Hamilton’s return to form after a disappointing rollercoaster season has impressed many in the paddock including his former McLaren team-mate Alonso who heaped praise on him in an interview with Italian media.
"The other guys can win if they've got the best car; he's the one who's able to clinch a championship with a car that's not the best," said Alonso.
Hamilton was fastest early in the session and again at the end after Button, Vettel, Massa and Rosberg had all taken over at the top of the timing screens.