Vettel fastest again in final practice

02 Nov 2013 11:31

Sebastian Vettel maintained normal service on Saturday when he and his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber set the fastest times in final practice for Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The newly-crowned quadruple world champion clocked a best lap of one minute and 41.349 seconds in the closing seconds of a busy session run in stifling conditions at the state-of-the-art Yas Marina circuit.

This lifted him 0.222 seconds ahead of Australian Webber, with Lewis Hamilton third and his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg fourth.

The 26-year-old German Vettel, who clinched his fourth title in India last Sunday, appeared capable of setting the pace at will as he and Webber demonstrated champion team Red Bull's clear supremacy over their rivals.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean was fifth for Lotus ahead of Briton Jenson Button of McLaren, German Nico Hulkenberg and his Sauber team-mate Mexican Esteban Gutierrez.

This left Ferrari-bound Finn Kimi Raikkonen down in ninth in the second Lotus, less than 24 hours after warning the team that he was prepared to miss the season-ending races in the United States and Brazil unless they paid him.

He is reportedly owed more than 15 million euros (£12.7m, $20.3m).

In steaming heat, with the air temperature hovering around 36 degrees celsius and the track touching 52 degrees, Raikkonen was soon into the groove and topped the times for a short spell early in the session.

As the Finn revelled in his escape from the media pack, drawn around him by his threat to miss the final two races this season, his future team-mate Fernando Alonso was stuck in the Ferrari pits with an unspecified leak.

He emerged to join the fray as Ferrari continued to struggle while Rosberg and then Vettel set the pace, the Mercedes man going quickest again before the final flurry when most switched from medium to soft compound tyres.

This was led by Button and Hamilton in succession before Vettel swept back to the top in a chaotic final minute as the flag fell.