Lewis Hamilton has set himself up nicely for qualifying at the Malaysian GP as he dominated the final free practice session ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who found some extra pace from yesterday to move ahead of the other Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton used the soft compound to set a lap of 1:34.434 beating his fastest time from Friday by half a second but was still not satisfied with the overall balance of the car, complaining after his fastest run from oversteer in the fast corners.
Max Verstappen overcame some early engine problems to put himself in second, 4 tenths off Hamilton’s time with a very good lap, pipping Nico Rosberg by a tenth of a second and moving ahead of the Ferrari drivers who didn’t seem as comfortable as yesterday.
Sebastian Vettel was third in FP2 but his session today wasn’t exactly smooth as he spun into the final corner and took out the pit bollard. He was outpaced by team mate Kimi Raikkonen who came fourth, 0.02s ahead of Vettel.
Daniel Ricciardo’s soft tyre run was compromised by traffic and couldn’t show whether he had his team mate’s pace, having to settle for 6th fastest in the end, half a second off Verstappen.
Williams and Force India were neck and neck in the session with Nico Hulkenberg beating Valtteri Bottas to 7th while Felipe Massa beat Sergio Perez to 10th, sandwiched in between was Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz in 9th place, half a second faster than his team mate Daniil Kvyat whose quiet session yielded 17th fastest.
Jenson Button was 12th as he ran Honda’s new exhaust system ahead of Esteban Gutierrez, Jolyon Palmer, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
The Haas pair both had moments with Romain Grosjean finding it particularly difficult to stay on the track, which he described as “pointless driving”.
Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr were 18th and 19th for Sauber, ahead of the Manor pair, with Esteban Ocon outperforming Pascal Wehrlein as the German suffered from engine problems midway through the session.
Fernando Alonso brought up the rear as he spent the session on used soft tyres, the Spaniard will start last after incurring an additional 15-place grid penalty to his existing 30, this time for taking on a new MGU-H and turbocharger.
Qualifying is set to begin at 17:00 local time (GMT +8)
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team