Defending Formula 1 champions Mercedes once again dominated proceedings in preparation for Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton narrowly outpaced teammate Nico Rosberg by less than one-tenth of a second in final practice.
With nobody appearing to bother the top two, the two Silver Arrows exchanged the lead throughout the one-hour session until Hamilton managed to secure the top spot in the closing stages, clocking a 1:36.403 to edge Rosberg by 0.068 seconds.
Ferrari was best of the rest with Sebastian Vettel third-fastest, albeit some six-tenths behind Hamilton. A further 0.7 seconds behind was his teammate Kimi Räikkönen.
The two Williams drivers matched each other’s pace throughout the session, with Felipe Massa emerging fifth-fastest ahead of Valtteri Bottas, 1.5 seconds off the lead.
Behind them formed a mixed scrap for what will theoretically be the final spots in Q3, which looks set to be a scrap between Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Force India and McLaren.
Max Verstappen answered his Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz’s pace by outpacing the Spaniard for the first time this weekend. Verstappen finished the session seventh-fastest, two positions and three-tenths of a second quicker than Sainz. The pair sandwich Jenson Button’s McLaren in eighth, while the sister MP4-30 of Fernando Alonso was twelfth-fastest.
Sergio Pérez showed good pace for Force India to grab tenth spot tenth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo; their respective sister cars Nico Hülkenberg and Daniil Kvyat were fourteenth and thirteenth-fastest. Hülkenberg, in particular, struggled to match his teammate’s pace in the session.
The Haas-Ferraris and the Renaults continued their close battle on the lower positions on the timesheets, swapping positions constantly before Positions 15-18 were finally settled in the order of Esteban Gutiérrez, Kevin Magnussen, Romain Grosjean and Jolyon Palmer.
The Manor Racing cars outpaced both Saubers in the session, with Rio Haryanto ahead of Pascal Wehrlein – the latter continued his difficult weekend although he was less than 0.1 seconds slower than the Indonesian driver. Over at Sauber, Felipe Nasr’s new chassis continued to give him no joy, finishing slowest of all behind teammate Marcus Ericsson.
Drivers spent the session doing their qualifying simulations with Turn 13 proving tricky as a number of drivers went off the track there.
Qualifying starts at 15:00 local time (GMT +3).
|2016 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE 3 RESULTS|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Result||Laps|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 Hybrid||1:36.403||17|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 Hybrid||+ 0.068||22|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H||+ 0.604||28|
|4.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H||+ 1.324||14|
|5.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38||+ 1.515||16|
|6.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38||+ 1.582||16|
|7.||Max Verstappen||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11||+ 1.730||22|
|8.||Jenson Button||McLaren-Honda MP4-31||+ 1.857||14|
|9.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11||+ 2.062||25|
|10.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09||+ 2.139||18|
|11.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB12||+ 2.219||23|
|12.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda MP4-31||+ 2.230||12|
|13.||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB12||+ 2.644||15|
|14.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09||+ 2.759||16|
|15.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Haas F1 Ferrari VF-16||+ 2.827||18|
|16.||Kevin Magnussen||Renault Sport F1 Team RS16||+ 2.835||16|
|17.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Ferrari VF-16||+ 2.836||15|
|18.||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team RS16||+ 3.186||19|
|19.||Rio Haryanto||Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5||+ 3.196||19|
|20.||Pascal Wehrlein||Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5||+ 3.260||18|
|21.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35||+ 3.337||23|
|22.||Felipe Nasr||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35||+ 3.495||19|
Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Petronas