The Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have dominated final practice for the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix, securing another 1-2 on the timesheets ahead of qualifying this afternoon.
The pair finished a demoralising one second quicker than the rest of the field, while the session proved to be a disaster for McLaren, who finished at the bottom of the timesheets after being struck by technical gremlins.
Rosberg’s fastest time in the one-hour session was a 1:39.008 on the Option Pirelli tyre compound to edge out Hamilton by two-tenths of a second. Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen wrestled his Ferrari to the ‘best of the rest’ honours, although worryingly for all of the non-Mercedes entries, the Finn was a full second slower.
Conditions were, as usual, hot and humid ahead of this afternoon’s forecasted showers – set to hit before qualifying, according to the weather reports – and much of the first half of the session’s running was dedicated to more race preparation on the more durable Hard tyre compound from Pirelli.
Rosberg and Hamilton were quickest during this point, and their position was further strengthened following the switch to the grippier, but higher-wearing, softer rubber. Both Silver Arrows were the only runners to lap below 1m40s, with Hamilton’s best lap time still coming off the back of a rather sizeable lock-up at Turn 9, suggesting he would certainly have eclipsed Rosberg’s best time.
Reigning champion and defending Malaysia winner Sebastian Vettel was fourth-fastest, ensuring that all three engine manufacturers were represented in the top four.
His compatriot Nico Hülkenberg emerged fifth-quickest in his Force India, despite complaining of a handling imbalance late in the session. He finished fractions quicker than the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
The Williams pairing of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were next up, with Sergio Pérez rounding out the top ten to ensure five teams claimed the fastest ten positions on the timesheets.
The rest of the timesheets had a Noah’s Ark look to it, with the Toro Rossos leading the Saubers, Lotus, Marussia and Caterham runners.
Lotus and Caterham both managed some running after negligible track time in Friday’s practice sessions, but the problems remained evident for both. Romain Grosjean was bitterly unhappy with the handling of his Lotus, describing the rear-end handling as “a disaster” over the pit-to-car radio broadcast on the FOM’s world feed.
But their troubles were perhaps nothing compared to the strife McLaren found itself in, with the Woking team’s MP4-29s languishing at the bottom of the timesheets after both cars were struck with hardware problems. Button managed a cursory timed lap early in the session before being forced to park his car for the remainder of the hour, while teammate Kevin Magnussen failed to record a time after reporting major engine woes.
It remains to be seen if either, or both, of the McLarens will even make it out for qualifying, which gets underway at 4:00pm local time (GMT +8). That is, of course, unless the weather conspires to delay proceedings…
2014 Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||1:39.008||13|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||1:39.240||+ 0.232||13|
|3.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||1:40.156||+ 1.148||13|
|4.||Sebastian Vettel||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||1:40.387||+ 1.379||14|
|5.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||1:40.523||+ 1.515||15|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||1:40.686||+ 1.678||14|
|7.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||1:40.736||+ 1.728||14|
|8.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||1:40.781||+ 1.773||20|
|9.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||1:40.891||+ 1.883||20|
|10.||Sergio Pérez||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||1:41.029||+ 2.021||15|
|11.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||1:41.182||+ 2.174||18|
|12.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||1:41.441||+ 2.433||18|
|13.||Adrian Sutil||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||1:41.552||+ 2.544||15|
|14.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||1:42.041||+ 3.033||17|
|15.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||1:43.749||+ 3.741||16|
|16.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||1:43.539||+ 4.531||20|
|17.||Max Chilton||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||1:43.977||+ 4.969||16|
|18.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||1:44.170||+ 5.162||18|
|19.||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||1:44.457||+ 5.449||12|
|20.||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||1:46.015||+ 7.007||7|
|21.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||2:05.555||+ 26.547||4|
|22.||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||no time||5|
Image via XPB Images