Nico Rosberg ended the final Formula One practice session of the season on a high on Saturday with the Mercedes driver lapping fastest at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit.
The German was 0.281 quicker than team mate and triple champion Lewis Hamilton, who is hoping to take a 50th career pole position in later qualifying for Sunday’s day-to-night race.
Rosberg, overall runner-up for the second year in a row after winning the last two races, will be chasing his sixth successive pole.
Despite expressing doubts about his chances after having to use a high-mileage engine for the weekend, Rosberg was the only driver inside the one minute 42 mark with a best lap of 1:41.856.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third fastest, ahead of Mexican Sergio Perez for Force India and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat failed to complete a timed lap due to an electrical problem.