By Andrew Benson
Nico Rosberg wrested back the psychological advantage at the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by going fastest in final practice.
German Rosberg beat Mercedes team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton by 0.369 seconds after losing out to the Briton in both sessions on Friday.
Hamilton made mistakes in the final sector, where he had been strongest on Friday, on both of his fastest laps.
A second-placed finish on Sunday is enough for Hamilton to win the title.
A lap Hamilton was on at the end of the session, which he did not complete because he was out of time, suggested he could have matched Rosberg’s pace had he managed to put a good lap together.
But Rosberg will head into qualifying boosted by the knowledge he was faster than his rival on both the super-soft tyres, on which the grid positions will be decided, and the soft tyres on which most of the race will be run.
Rosberg beat Hamilton by 0.128secs on the harder tyre earlier in the session.
The two Mercedes again appeared to be in a race of their own – their closest challenger, Williams’s Felipe Massa, was 1.005secs behind.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was an impressive fourth despite a severely truncated session as a result of a need to save engine mileage.
The double world champion, who will drive for McLaren next season and be replaced at Ferrari by Sebastian Vettel, set his time on the super-soft tyres early in the session.
Drivers in the teams that are likely to be his main competitors in the race, Red Bull and McLaren, could not beat his time.
Alonso, who missed all of Friday’s second session because of an electronics failure, then parked up and watched the rest of the session from the Ferrari building.
Vettel, whose signing by Ferrari was announced on Thursday, was fifth fastest, ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Williams’s Valtteri Bottas.
Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen completed the top 10, with McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen 11th.
Magnussen and Button are both driving this weekend knowing it could be their last race in F1.
McLaren are yet to confirm their driver line-up and chairman Ron Dennis is still trying to make up his mind whether to keep Button or Magnussen as Alonso’s team-mate.
Dennis told BBC Sport: “The music hasn’t stopped and a range of things could happen on Sunday that would influence the decisions that haven’t been taken.”
He said there would be a “clinical and emotionless analysis of what the options are”, adding: “We will have more data to do that on Monday.” BBC Sport