Nico Rosberg goes into qualifying at Abu Dhabi with a slight psychological advantage after recording the fastest time of the weekend so far on the Yas Marina circuit. Rosberg was fastest on both the soft and super-soft tyres in the final practice session, indicating that he should have good pace in both qualifying and race trim.
Hamilton will take comfort from being quicker at times than his only championship rival, and small mistakes in the last sector of the circuit cost him a few tenths.
The Mercedes drivers were well clear of the rest of the field – Massa was just over a second behind Rosberg in 3rd place. The nature of the track should mean that the Williams is closer in race trim than on the softer tyres, and they may pose a challenge to Mercedes on Sunday.
Alonso recorded an impressive few laps in his short time on track to finish 4th while Vettel outshone Ricciardo by finishing 5th in the session. Jenson Button was 6th fastest while teammate Kevin Magnussen was 11th.
Even if Rosberg wins Sunday’s race, he needs Hamilton to finish lower than 2nd if he’s to take his first world championship. Read the permutations over the title here.