Fernando Alonso is the favourite to claim pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso has staked his claim for pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix after comfortably emerging as the quickest driver in the final practice session at this weekend’s event at the Shanghai International Circuit.

In a late period of soft-tyre qualifying simulations, Alonso wound up a full six-tenths faster than teammate Felipe Massa, giving Ferrari a confidence-boosting 1-2 as the field heads into qualifying this afternoon.

With fine conditions again the order of the day, the eleven teams devoted much of the sixty-minute session to more set-up work for tomorrow’s race, before concentrating on qualifying simulations in the closing minutes of play.

The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were the pacesetters during this period, before the Soft-compound Pirelli tyres were bolted on with twenty minutes to go.

But Mercedes’ joy came to an early end at that point. Rosberg was unable to complete a timed Soft-tyre run after encountering a hydraulics problem with his car. While he tumbled down the timesheets to finish up fourteenth overall, Hamilton only managed to squeeze in one flying lap after he also had dramas with his car. The Englishman finished third-quickest.

The duelling Red Bull Racing pair of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber finished fourth- and fifth-fastest respectively; both struggled on the circuit’s long 1.3-kilometre back straight, where the RB9 has shown a lack of straightline speed.

Adrian Sutil wound up sixth quickest in the ever-improving Force India, with Kimi Räikkönen and Jenson Button completing the top-eight, ahead of Sergio Pérez and Nico Hülkenberg.

Qualifying gets underway at 2:00PM local time (GMT+8). Who will finish on pole?

2013 Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:35.391   13
2. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:36.013 + 0.622 11
3. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:36.065 + 0.674 18
4. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:36.286 + 0.895 17
5. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:36.420 + 1.029 15
6. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:36.549 + 1.158 16
7. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:36.605 + 1.214 16
8. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:36.693 + 1.302 16
9. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:36.777 + 1.386 16
10. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 1:36.853 + 1.462 15
11. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:37.072 + 1.681 15
12. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:37.205 + 1.814 18
13. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 1:37.300 + 1.909 11
14. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:37.349 + 1.958 12
15. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 1:37.457 + 2.066 16
16. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:37.487 + 2.096 13
17. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 1:37.740 + 2.349 20
18. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:37.813 + 2.422 16
19. Jules Bianchi FRA Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:38.496 + 3.105 17
20. Charles Pic FRA Caterham Renault CT03 1:38.821 + 3.430 18
21. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:39.627 + 4.236 16
22. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT03 1:39.652 + 4.261 18

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.