F1: Fernando Alonso gets special livery for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

McLaren to sport farewell livery for Alonso

"We're incredibly pleased and proud to be able to race a special one-off livery for Fernando in Abu Dhabi this weekend", said McLaren CEO Zak Brown. "The team has done an exceptional job all year", said Hamilton, who stripped down to the waist on the podium and pointed to a tattoo on his back.

World Champion Lewis Hamilton has four months to rest and prepare for the new season which kick-starts in Australia next March.

Earlier, Verstappen was fastest in the first practice by about half a second. He raced with them until 2014, racking up a few wins along the way and challenging Sebastian Vettel for the title.

Hulkenberg's Renault flipped on lap one and was sent tumbling into the barriers and eventually settled upside down after colliding with French driver Romain Grosjean.

"It was quite an emotional session for me because it's the last time I'll be qualifying in this vehicle", said the Hamilton.

"Get me out. There's fire". Hulkenberg was later released, with doctors confident he had escaped the collision unharmed. Ricciardo was next, Bottas third, and Hamilton fourth about one second behind.

F1 Breakdown: Was Fernando Alonso a pantomime villain? He came tantalisingly close to usurping Vettel's Red Bull dominance with the latter team of course - in a vehicle that wasn't even the quickest - but that was never to be.

Max Verstappen was closing on Vettel as the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo closed on the Dutchman.

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He was clipped by the Swiss driver and rolled several times after the clash.

That gave Vettel breathing space and locked the Red Bulls in their positions.

"He's such a big character, we will miss him and we wish him the very best for the future", Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. The McLaren, which started 15th, was just not quick enough for him to do any more.

His Mercedes team played their part, too, after they took advantage of a Virtual Safety Car - deployed when Kimi Raikkonen stopped on the main straight with an engine failure in his final race for Ferrari - to allow Hamilton the chance to effectively make a free pit stop.

Still, he's a hugely respected driver - arguably one of the greats.

"I have been impressed with his performances over the past two years and I can not believe that he doesn't have a auto for next season", he said. It'll be there before you know it.

"I think yesterday we tried everything and obviously for us, the Ultrasoft didn't last so long so we were quite confident that it would be a race tyre and a tyre we want to start on".

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