Lewis Hamilton posts fastest time in final practice for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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World champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time in final practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Mercedes star, who is bidding to end his title-winning campaign with an 11th victory of the year, finished 0.288 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen at the Yas Marina circuit, with Sebastian Vettel third.

Max Verstappen finished fourth quickest, ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with Daniel Ricciardo sixth in the order.

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Esteban Ocon confirmed as Mercedes reserve driver for 2019

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Esteban Ocon has been confirmed as Mercedes reserve driver for next season.

The Frenchman, 22, will be without a race seat in 2019, with Lance Stroll to replace him at Force India after his fashion billionaire father, Lawrence, bought the team.

Ocon is a member of Mercedes’ junior programme, and will hope his season as an understudy to Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will help him return to the grid in 2020.

Bottas, who heads into the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi on Sunday without a win, is out of contract with the Silver Arrows at the end of next season.

“We hope to do the odd test with Esteban next year,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said on Friday.

“He will spend a lot of time in the simulator and be ready for 2020.”

Ocon courted controversy at the last race in Brazil after he collided with leader Max Verstappen. Verstappen responded by shoving Ocon in the chest three times.

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Valtteri Bottas edges out Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi FP2

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Valtteri Bottas topped the charts as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest in second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

With his fifth title already safely secured, Hamilton, 33, is hoping to sign off with his 11th victory of a remarkable year.

But the Mercedes star finished 0.207 seconds slower than Bottas in the final running of the day at the Yas Marina circuit.

Hamilton, sporting a gold crash helmet and number one on his car this weekend to celebrate his latest championship success, faced a summons to the stewards after crossing the white line as he entered the pits.

The British driver is likely to be handed only a reprimand.

Bottas is searching for his first victory of an inauspicious campaign. The Finn finished four hundredths ahead of Max Verstappen in the early-evening dark.

Daniel Ricciardo, taking part in his 100th and final race for Red Bull before he moves to Renault next season, finished third.

Ferrari, looking to banish memories of their late-season collapse which allowed Hamilton to sew up the title more easily than he might have expected, occupied fifth and sixth places on the time sheets.

Kimi Raikkonen, whose long association with the Italian team will end with Sunday’s race, held a slim advantage over Sebastian Vettel.

Fernando Alonso will bring down the curtain on the second longest career in Formula One under no illusions that he can add to his 32 victories.

It is more likely that the two-time world champion will be squabbling for the minor points come Sunday, his 312th and final start.

Here, he finished 13th for McLaren, 1.5 sec off the pace.

In first practice earlier in the day, Verstappen set the pace as Red Bull continue to end the season with a surge of form.

Verstappen, who was unlucky not to win when taken out while leading the Brazilian Grand Prix a fortnight ago, led Ricciardo in a Red Bull one-two.

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