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 uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:37.615 14
2. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:37.841 + 0.226 16
3. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:38.313 + 0.698 17
4. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:38.512 + 0.897 16
5. Daniel Ricciardo au Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:39.020 + 1.405 8
6. Daniil Kvyat ru Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:39.106 + 1.491 14
7. Carlos Sainz es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:39.113 + 1.498 17
8. Valtteri Bottas fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:39.243 + 1.628 15
9. Max Verstappen nl Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:39.274 + 1.659 19
10. Romain Grosjean fr Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:39.405 + 1.790 14
11. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:39.410 + 1.795 17
12. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08 1:39.513 + 1.898 14
13. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:39.559 + 1.944 18
14. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:39.591 + 1.976 19
15. Jenson Button uk McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:39.694 + 2.079 19
16. Pastor Maldonado ve Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:39.766 + 2.151 16
17. Sergio Pérez mx Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08 1:39.781 + 2.166 16
18. Will Stevens uk Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:42.928 + 5.313 17
19. Roberto Merhi es Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:44.956 + 7.341 15
20. Fernando Alonso es McLaren Honda MP4-30 no time 1

Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

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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.