Nico Rosberg has topped the final practice session of the year ahead of his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton.
The German, who has taken pole for the last five races, clocked a best time of 1m41.856s, 0.281 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who had a messy session and failed to get a clean lap together.
Behind the Silver Arrows, it was Sebastian Vettel who once again was in the top three, but the big surprise was behind the Ferrari with Force India’s Sergio Perez in fourth.
Force India who cemented fifth in the constructors championship last time out in Brazil have shown impressive pace all weekend and if all goes to plan some good points could be coming their way.
Raikkonen ended the session fifth, seven tenths off the pace and four tenths slower than Ferrari team-mate Vettel, with Daniel Ricciardo sixth and Nico Hulkenberg seventh.
Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz completed the top 10.
Jenson Button was the leading McLaren in 11th, 1.652s off the pace but half a second clear of team-mate Fernando Alonso, who complained on team radio about traffic on his super-soft run.
Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat had a troubled session, failing to set a time as his team worked on solving an electrical issue with his power unit.
Hamilton could not find a way past his Mercedes team mate and was forced to settle for second for the third race in a row, while Kimi Raikkonen secured fourth place in the drivers’ championship by taking the final step on the podium.
Sebastian Vettel recovered from 15th on the grid to finish fourth, with Force India achieving a strong finish to their season with fifth and seventh for Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg respectively.
As the five lights extinguished for the final time in 2015, it was Rosberg who streaked away into the lead from pole position, while Hamilton came under immediate pressure from Raikkonen’s Ferrari for second but was able to hold his position into the first corner.
Pastor Maldonado’s incident-filled season ended at turn one when he was speared by Fernando Alonso after the McLaren driver made contact with Felipe Nasr’s Sauber into the braking zone. The McLaren was able to continue, but Alonso was soon punished with a drive-through penalty for his role in the collision.
There was plenty of action in the opening laps, with Carlos Sainz, Vettel and Felipe Massa all making aggressive moves to advance up the order. Out front, Rosberg led the opening laps, with Hamilton, Raikkonen and the two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg behind.
Rosberg cruised home to his first win in Abu Dhabi and his third successive victory. Hamilton crossed the line eight seconds adrift of his team mate, with Kimi Raikkonen taking the final podium place for Ferrari almost 20 seconds behind the winning Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel took fourth after a strong recovery drive, followed by the Force India of Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull and Nico Hulkenberg in the sister Force India.
Felipe Massa took eighth, Romain Grosjean took ninth in his final race for Lotus and Daniil Kvyat rounded out the points in tenth. Max Verstappen dropped from 12th on the track to 16th after two post-race penalties for exceeding track limits and ignoring blue flags.
Romain Grosjean will start from the back row of the grid for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a gearbox change.
The Frenchman – who is taking part in his final race for Lotus before moving to the new Haas F1 Team next season – was hit with problems during qualifying and stopped on track towards the end of Q2, leaving him 15th on the grid originally.
However, the problems which plagued Grosjean have led to a gearbox change which carries an automatic five-place grid penalty, demoting him to the back row of the grid.
Despite the penalty, Grosjean will not start last as Manor’s Will Stevens took a fifth control electronics ahead of final practice on Saturday which also gave him a grid penalty. As a result Stevens – who qualified 19th – will start from last with Grosjean one place ahead.
Drivers to profit from Grosjean’s penalty are Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Marcus Ericsson who all move up a place, while Roberto Merhi will start from the pit lane after making set-up changes since qualifying.
A puncture for Fernando Alonso meant that he failed to make it into Q2, but the biggest shock of qualifying came as Ferrari messed their strategy and Sebastian Vettel failed to make it through the session.