As the sun set and the lights were switched on in Abu Dhabi, Seb Vettel came to the fore, setting the pace on the soft tyres ahead of Mark Webber.
As the drivers jumped straight into the action, Kimi Raikkonen got the proceedings underway with a 1:44.360 before he was pipped by Jenson Button while Sergio Perez slotted into third place.
That sparked a brief battle between the trio who traded fastest lap times until all three were separated by just 0.059s with Perez at the top.
That battle, though, came to an end when Sebastian Vettel ventured out with the Red Bull driver hitting the front with a 1:43.062. However, minutes later Mark Webber pipped his team-mate only to lose out as the soft tyre runs began.
Raikkonen was the first to change to the Option tyres and he posted a 1:41.888, which was 1.133s quicker than the Australian's lap time. Raikkonen went on to do a cool down lap and then went quicker on his next lap, shaving a tenth of his time.
There were problems for Paul di Resta who suffered a front left tyre failure but to the inside of the tyre. The deflation caused the Force India to have an off but given the wide run-off areas as the Yas Marina circuit he avoided the barriers.
Back at the front, the two Mercedes drivers were unable to beat Raikkonen on their first soft tyre runs with Rosberg second and Hamilton third ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Perez. However, a second flying lap saw Hamilton take the P1 slot only for him to lose out as the Red Bulls took control.
First Webber went quickest and then Vettel, with the German putting in a 1:41.434 to edges his team-mate by 0.056s. Hamilton was third ahead of Raikkonen, Rosberg and Perez. Vettel went onto up his pace to a 1:41.335.
There were problems for Grosjean on his soft run as the Frenchman went straight on and reported "something broke, something broke." It appears to be something relating to the brakes.
Swapping to long distance runs for the final 35 minutes, Vettel showed some impressive pace with his final lap on the soft tyres - lap 17 - clocking in a 1:46.272. Meanwhile, Felipe Massa's 19th lap on the softs was a 1:51.
Raikkonen put in a 1:47 on his 24th lap on the mediums while both Mercs were also in the 1:47s.
01 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:41.335 32 laps
02 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:41.490 +0.155 32 laps
03 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:41.690 +0.355 36 laps
04 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:41.726 +0.391 40 laps
05 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:41.758 +0.423 39 laps
06 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:42.006 +0.671 34 laps
07 Jenson Button McLaren 1:42.010 +0.675 29 laps
08 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:42.171 +0.836 29 laps
09 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:42.324 +0.989 39 laps
10 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:42.440 +1.105 34 laps
11 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:42.509 +1.174 36 laps
12 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:42.607 +1.272 18 laps
13 Paul di Resta Force India 1:42.806 +1.471 25 laps
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:42.952 +1.617 34 laps
15 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:42.998 +1.663 25 laps
16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:43.152 +1.817 27 laps
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:43.271 +1.936 34 laps
18 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:43.565 +2.230 34 laps
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:44.138 +2.803 33 laps
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:44.459 +3.124 33 laps
21 Charles Pic Caterham 1:44.525 +3.190 36 laps
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1:45.565 +4.230 25 laps