Scuderia Ferrari has led the way in the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix’s one and only practice session of note, with Sebastian Vettel leading teammate Kimi Räikkönen in final practice at the Shanghai International Circuit.
Vettel, winner of the preceding Australian Grand Prix a fortnight ago, underlined the credentials of Ferrari’s SF70H chassis with an impressive showing. His benchmark lap, a 1:33.336, was posted on Super Soft tyres midway through the one-hour session. Räikkönen was five-hundredths of a second off the German’s pace in the final reckoning.
With Friday’s two practice sessions failing to produce any meaningful running thanks to poor visibility conditions, Saturday’s session produced plenty of on-track action as the teams scrambled to sort out their set-ups before qualifying this afternoon.
Daniel Ricciardo led the early running in his Red Bull Racing RB13, posting a 1:35.647 time early on to lead the likes of Sergio Pérez’s Force India and Lance Stroll’s Williams by almost two seconds.
Räikkönen then lowered the benchmark by lapping in the 1m34s range halfway through the session, although the Finn complained about understeer at the time. Vettel then went quickest of all, and Räikkönen fell narrowly short late in the session when he posted his fastest lap.
Following the two Ferraris on the time sheets were the two Mercedes’ of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. Bottas shrugged off his T-wing snapping off his F1W08 early on in the session to provisionally go second-fastest ahead of Hamilton, before the pair was deposed by Räikkönen in the dying minutes.
Hamilton put in a late charge on his final run and went quickest in the first sector of the lap, but ran wide at the hairpin before crossing the line with a 1:33.879 time. Bottas leapfrogged the Englishman on his last lap, edging the three-time champion by less than two-tenths of a second.
Felipe Massa claimed ‘best of the rest’ honours in his Williams, ahead of Red Bull Racing duo Max Verstappen and Ricciardo.
The second Williams of Lance Stroll was eighth-fastest, ahead of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer – who had a spin at Turn 11 – and Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso.
Nico Hülkenberg was eleventh-fastest in the second Renault, two spots ahead of his former Force India teammate Sergio Pérez.
Pérez managed to split the Haas F1 Team duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, with the latter complaining that his VF17 was “very difficult” to drive in the session.
Daniil Kvyat and Esteban Ocon were fifteenth and sixteenth-fastest in the sister Toro Rosso and Force India entries, while the two McLaren-Hondas and Sauber Ferraris brought up the rear.
Fernando Alonso was fastest of the quartet in his McLaren, finishing just ahead of Marcus Ericsson, who spun his Sauber Turn 8 but was able to recover. Their respective teammates, Stoffel Vandoorne and Antonio Giovinazzi, brought up the rear.
Saturday’s qualifying session in Shanghai will begin at 15:00 local time (GMT +8).
|2017 FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN CHINESE GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 3 RESULTS|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Tyre||Laps|
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:33.336||20|
|2.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:33.389||19|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:33.707||26|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:33.879||25|
|5.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:34.773||23|
|6.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:34.946||20|
|7.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:35.092||23|
|8.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:35.182||24|
|9.||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:35.192||21|
|10.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:35.223||24|
|11.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:35.449||22|
|12.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:35.521||22|
|13.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:35.626||20|
|14.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:35.680||22|
|15.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:35.804||23|
|16.||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:35.811||24|
|17.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda MP4-31||1:35.912||17|
|18.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:36.063||25|
|19.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda MP4-31||1:36.221||21|
|20.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:36.705||24|
Image via XPB Images