Mercedes returned to the top of the timesheets thanks to Nico Rosberg, who topped final practice by seven-tenths of a second ahead of Valtteri Bottas and teammate Lewis Hamilton.
The session was stopped with 20 minutes left to run when Carlos Sainz lost his Toro Rosso under braking on the entry towards Turn 13 and hit the inside wall, which propelled him straight into the tec-pro barriers.
His car wedged underneath the barriers after crashing at high speed, leaving the Spaniard stuck for a period of time while the Marshalls lifted the barriers to release him.
Thankfully, Sainz was extracted from the wreck and put on a stretcher then wheeled into a waiting ambulance, giving the cameras a thumbs up in the process.
At the beginning of the session, most of the drivers wasted no time in taking to the track to make up the waste of Friday’s practice sessions.
The field was split between tyre compounds in order to get an understanding of the tyre behaviours before qualifying and the race tomorrow. Bottas went to the top of the table early on the soft compound tyre with a 1:40.884 followed closely by his team-mate Felipe Massa, who had ERS troubles at the beginning of the session.
It took the Ferrari pair of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen 15 minutes before they appeared on the circuit, both drivers posting times four seconds off the pace and almost identical to each other.
Both Red Bull and Toro Rosso drivers, along with Pastor Maldonado, Marcus Ericsson and Raikkonen all completed long runs on the super soft tyres, with no one lasting longer than 13 laps.
The Mercedes pair of Rosberg and Hamilton completed similar strategies, starting the session with the soft tyres, then making the switch half way through to the super softs to practice their qualifying laps.
Bottas and Massa had already made the switch to the grippy super softs at this point and were posting lap times below the 1:40 mark. Although it seemed to take the softer compound tyre an extra lap to warm up due to the smooth and slippery surface the new Sochi track provides.
Hamilton’s first run on the super soft tyres didn’t go quite to plan, as he locked up heavily into Turn two and gave the left front a flat spot. This caused trouble on his second and final run as he was only able to post the third quickest time, close to a second slower than his team-mates benchmark.
Qualifying at Sochi is scheduled to begin at 15:00 local time (GMT +3) on Saturday.
|2015 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Results|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:38.561||15|
|2.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:39.287||+ 0.726||17|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:39.363||+ 0.802||13|
|4.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B||1:39.616||+ 1.055||14|
|5.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:39.875||+ 1.314||14|
|6.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B||1:39.917||+ 1.356||14|
|7.||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:40.581||+ 2.020||12|
|8.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:40.767||+ 2.206||13|
|9.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:41.200||+ 2.639||11|
|10.||Felipe Nasr||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:41.229||+ 2.668||14|
|11.||Daniil Kvyat||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:41.358||+ 2.797||15|
|12.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:42.297||+ 3.736||11|
|13.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:42.371||+ 3.810||14|
|14.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:42.450||+ 3.889||14|
|15.||Carlos Sainz||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:42.683||+ 4.122||19|
|16.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:42.686||+ 4.125||11|
|17.||Max Verstappen||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:43.089||+ 4.528||16|
|18.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:43.347||+ 4.786||14|
|19.||Roberto Merhi||Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B||1:46.767||+ 8.206||19|
|20.||Will Stevens||Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B||1:47.249||+ 8.688||18|
Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Petronas