Lewis Hamilton’s domination of the Chinese Grand Prix timesheets has continued into Saturday’s final practice session, with the reigning World Champion once again leading the way.
The Mercedes driver led teammate Nico Rosberg to a 1-2 in Saturday’s one-hour session ahead of qualifying, edging out the German by two-tenths of a second.
Ferrari again finished as the Silver Arrows’ nearest challenger – albeit almost a second adrift of the two F1W06 Hybrids – with Sebastian Vettel third-quickest from teammate Kimi Räikkönen.
Red Bull Racing continued the Noah’s Ark theme on the timesheets with the fifth- and sixth-fastest times; Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were a further half-second back and mere fractions quicker than Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz Jr.
Giving every indication that the midfield qualifying battle will be an exceptionally tight one, the next ten places on the timing screens were covered by just half a second.
Sainz and teammate Max Verstappen sandwiched Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, while Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten in his Lotus E23.
After his mechanics fitted an older-spec wing to his Williams, Felipe Massa finished eleventh-quickest in the second FW37, although the Brazilian did have to briefly contend with smoke in his cockpit during the session.
Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg was twelfth-fastest ahead of the Sauber duo of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr, who were closely shadowed by Jenson Button in the McLaren – the Englishman was two seconds off Hamilton’s ultimate pace and continued to underscore the improvements the Honda-powered MP4-30 has made.
Button was the sole McLaren in action over the session, after teammate Fernando Alonso ground to a halt on his out-lap with apparent engine trouble. With just a two-hour gap until the start of qualifying, the Spaniard may be in doubt to participate.
The second Lotus of Pastor Maldonado beat Sergio Pérez’s Force India to sixteenth place to bring up the rear of this closely-knit pack of cars.
As expected, the two Marussias were circulating at the bottom of the timesheets, with Will Stevens heading teammate Roberto Merhi to the tune of over two seconds. The Spaniard did suffer technical problems with his Ferrari-powered MR03 and did not post a time on the Pirelli Soft tyres.
Saturday’s qualifying session at the Shanghai International Circuit begins at 15:00 local time (GMT +8).
|2015 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Results|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:37.615||14|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:37.841||+ 0.226||16|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:38.313||+ 0.698||17|
|4.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:38.512||+ 0.897||16|
|5.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:39.020||+ 1.405||8|
|6.||Daniil Kvyat||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:39.106||+ 1.491||14|
|7.||Carlos Sainz||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:39.113||+ 1.498||17|
|8.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:39.243||+ 1.628||15|
|9.||Max Verstappen||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:39.274||+ 1.659||19|
|10.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:39.405||+ 1.790||14|
|11.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:39.410||+ 1.795||17|
|12.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08||1:39.513||+ 1.898||14|
|13.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:39.559||+ 1.944||18|
|14.||Felipe Nasr||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:39.591||+ 1.976||19|
|15.||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:39.694||+ 2.079||19|
|16.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:39.766||+ 2.151||16|
|17.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08||1:39.781||+ 2.166||16|
|18.||Will Stevens||Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||1:42.928||+ 5.313||17|
|19.||Roberto Merhi||Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||1:44.956||+ 7.341||15|
|20.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda MP4-30||no time||1|
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team