Follow the third practice on Saturday on the BBC Sport website and mobile app from 09:30 GMT, followed by BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, website and app coverage of the qualifiers from 12:00

Lewis Hamilton described his infection with the Coronavirus as a “trial” after returning to his Mercedes for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the end of the season.

Hamilton missed last weekend’s race in Bahrain after contracting Covid-19, but was passive on Wednesday in time for the race at Yas Marina.

It’s not something that I really want to delve into, said the world champion. “It was an experience for sure.

“I’m just happy to be back and grateful to be back with the team.”

Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was the fastest in the second training session on Friday, said: “It’s good to see him in good health and coming back. You don’t wish anyone got infected with this virus and it looks like it was not that moderate.”

Hamilton said he “missed doing what he liked” and that he saw “some” of the Sakhir Grand Prix, with George Russell starring in a Mercedes and was denied his first victory only by stopping. Mixing and piercing.

Hamilton said it took him a lot of the day to feel comfortable again in the car.

The champ said seven times, “It took a good session and a half to get back into the flow even though it was a short period of time out of the car.” “But we passed all the required program and [will] Work hard tonight for tomorrow.

“The car wasn’t the way it was when I left it. The balance was not the same but I am back where I feel comfortable with it.”

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Hamilton finished the day 0.203 seconds slower than Bottas, with Mercedes drivers unusually setting the fastest lap times in the mid-tire complex.

Unlike Bottas, Hamilton placed a faster lap on the soft lap, which should be faster per lap, but his time was omitted to override the track limits at the last corner.

That time was 0.2 seconds faster than the Bottas’ speed mark. The same margin was ahead of Bottas on average in race simulations later in the session, as Mercedes drivers used the 2021 test tire provided by Pirelli.

Red Bulls Max Verstappen was the third fastest, and also had his best time on the mid-frame.

Verstappen was banned on his lap of soft tires by Racing Point driver Sergio Perez and said the tire is “good for me”.

But Bottas said he has struggled to make gentle work effective.

“The smoothness was tough,” said Finn. “I didn’t really get them into the window on the first lap and then on the second lap they were hugely overheated. The facility felt like the best frame, which it shouldn’t be.”

Behind the usual top three, Red Bull driver Alexander Albon finished fourth, ahead of McLaren Lando Norris.

The sixth to ninth drivers – Esteban Ocon of Renault, Perez Racing Point, Charles Leclerc of Ferrari and Daniel Ricciardo of Renault – were separated by just 0.003 seconds.

Ocon was 0.001 seconds faster than Perez, who was 0.002 seconds ahead of Leclerc and Ricardo, who set the exact same time.

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The lack of speed in the soft tire indicates that the top teams may be more determined than they have been in recent races to try to pass the second stage of the qualifiers on the average so that they can start the race on it.

Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo suffered a major engine fire that raised the red flag for a few minutes mid-race.

Perez and Kevin Magnussen will each have to start from the back of the grid in Racing Point and Haas after exceeding the engine parts limit for this season.

Russell, who conducted the media day Thursday as a Mercedes driver before Hamilton was officially allowed to race, was in 18th place on his return to Williams.

He had a problem with the MGU-K, which is part of the hybrid drive system, and missed the last part of the session.

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