Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2022: Sergio Perez on top in final practice session

Red Bull driver took another step towards championship runner-up spot at Yas Marina Circuit on Saturday

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Sergio Perez showed he was every bit the contender for Formula One championship's runner-up position by topping Saturday's afternoon practice session at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After being bettered twice by Charles Leclerc, his rival for the No 2 position, in Friday's racing, the Red Bull driver turned in a performance worthy of a podium finish in Sunday’s race.

For his part, Leclerc managed to spend some time at the top of the leaderboard, but he could do no better than sixth at the end of 60 minutes.

Perez’s time of 1:24.982 left him 0.152 seconds ahead of his nearest contender.

And that contender in question was teammate Max Verstappen, who mounted a late charge, managing to turn around a dire situation that saw him languishing at the bottom of the roster for almost the entire first half of the session.

Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and teammate George Russell looked on course for another one-two placing, a feat they achieved in Friday’s first session, but their seniority was toppled as the session wore on.

The pair finished third and fourth.

McLaren’s Lando Norris turned in a highly serviceable performance to take fifth position, finishing just over half a second behind Perez.

Seventh place went to Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz, while Daniel Ricciardo continues to show he’s a contender with eighth place in his McLaren.

Soon-to-be retired Sebastian Vettel nudged the nose of his Aston Martin into the top 10 behind the Australian, with Williams’s Alexander Albon just behind.

The session was probably the most exciting so far, with the lead changing hands time and again.

Each of the top five placed drivers hit the top of the time charts at least once, though that time in the sun was admittedly brief for a couple of them, Verstappen included.

All eyes now await the qualifying session, which starts at 6pm on Saturday.

Updated: November 19, 2022, 12:32 PM