Formula One: Lewis Hamilton claims early advantage over Max Verstappen before climactic Abu Dhabi finale

Lewis Hamilton has pushed Formula One rival Max Verstappen off the top of the timesheets to end the opening day of practice comfortably fastest for their title showdown at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Briton lapped the revised 5.2km Yas Marina track in 1m 23.691s, the only driver to drop below the 1m 24s mark, with his Dutch rival fourth.

The Red Bull driver had lapped fastest in the opening session of track action, with Hamilton third, after his quickest lap time was deleted.

But the Dutchman could get no closer than 0.641s off the Briton's benchmark, although he appeared to have the edge over Hamilton during the heavy-fuel race simulations.

Verstappen and Hamilton head into Monday's race - a winner-takes-all showdown - level on points, but the Dutchman is ahead 9-8 on wins and would become champion, if neither score.

The pair have already collided three times this season, raising concerns that a thrilling title battle might end in a crash, but the governing FIA has warned drivers of severe consequences, such as a points deduction, for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon took advantage of the Red Bull's relative lack of single-lap pace, going a surprise second fastest, 0.343s adrift of Hamilton. 

Valtteri Bottas in the other Mercedes was third, 0.392s off the pace. Kimi Raikkonen's crash in the closing minutes of the session forced an early halt.

Heading off into retirement on Monday, the Finn lost control of his Alfa Romeo at the left-handed Turn 14 and spun into the barriers.