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Vettel can take the qualifying fight to champion Hamilton

Ferrari star battling to the finish in Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton set an unofficial lap record in Abu Dhabi practice
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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying
Channel 4 & Sky Sports F1, 1pm Saturday

Sebastian Vettel pipped new world champion Lewis Hamilton in the first session but the Englishman found ominous form after the sun went down on practice day in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton set the fastest lap ever seen at the Yas Marina circuit in second practice and also looked in decent shape on race simulation runs.

The Mercedes maestro was already odds-on for qualifying before practice and is now an 8-15 chance to take his 12th pole position of the season.

It would be Hamilton's first pole for three races, but there were signs he was struggling in practice in Mexico and his first-lap error in Brazil was extremely uncharacteristic.

At least that faux pas allowed him to take an effectively penalty-free engine change (he would have started last anyway) and gives Hamilton a relatively fresh motor he can push to the limit for the remainder of the season-closing weekend.

Vettel seemed resigned to starting second (something of a jibe at Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas who beat the German to pole in Brazil) as he spoke to reporters after practice. However, he was only a tenth of a second behind Hamilton and could make a fight of it on Saturday.

Vettel has made 14 front-row appearances this season and the 11-4 available that the qualifying winning margin falls between a tenth and two-tenths of a second is just about tempting enough.

Daniel Ricciardo's practice form suggested Red Bull could be set for better form this weekend after a dip in Brazil. However, Mexico winner Max Verstappen struggled with the handling of his car and has work to do.

Qualifying winning margin 0.1-0.2 seconds
1pt 11-4 bet365

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Vettel seemed resigned to starting second - something of a jibe at Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas who beat him to pole in Brazil
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