FP3: Vettel heads Ferrari 1-2


Saturday’s final practice for the Chinese GP belonged to Ferrari as the Scuderia had the edge over Mercedes with Sebastian Vettel P1 ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Having lost all but 20 minutes of Friday’s running, it was a frantic start to Saturday’s final practice as the drivers tried to shove four hours of running into one single hour.

With the weather much-improved compared to Friday, the drivers were immediately out on track with 18 times on the board and all 20 drivers putting in laps within the first seven minutes of FP3.

Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso were the last two drivers to post times while Daniel Ricciardo led the early running with a 1:37.411.

It was a session in which many of the teams alternated tyre strategy with Mercedes and Ferrari putting one driver on the soft Pirellis and the other on the supersofts. And they were not the only teams to do that.

There was minor drama at Mercedes as the T-wing snapped off Valtteri Bottas’s W08 as the Finn lapped the 16-corner circuit.

Red Bull were quick to make the change from softs to supersofts for Ricciardo, who went purple in all three sectors on his way to a 1:35.647.

His reign ended midway through FP3 when Raikkonen went quickest on the supers, a 1:34.519 for the Ferrari driver. Vettel took over from his team-mate at the top with a 1:33.336, 1.1s up on Raikkonen’s best.

The Finn put on another set of new supers and closed the gap to 0.053s.

Bottas and Lewis Hamilton – who locked up – went third and fourth in the session with Bottas’s best, a 1:33.707, 0.371s down on Vettel. Hamilton was a further 0.2s slower.

Felipe Massa was fifth in the Williams ahead of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. Massa’s best was a 1:34.773 while the Red Bull drivers were 1.6 and 1.7s off the pace.

Lance Stroll, Jolyon Palmer and Carlos Sainz completed the top ten.

As for McLaren, Fernando Alonso was P17 with Stoffel Vandoorne 19th fastest.

1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.336
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:33.389 0.053
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:33.707 0.371
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.879 0.543
5 Felipe Massa Williams 1:34.773 1.437
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:34.946 1.610
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:35.092 1.756
8 Lance Stroll Williams 1:35.182 1.846
9 Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport 1:35.192 1.856
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:35.223 1.887
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Sport 1:35.449 2.113
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:35.521 2.185
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1:35.626 2.290
14 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:35.680 2.344
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:35.804 2.468
16 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:35.811 2.475
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:35.912 2.576
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:36.063 2.727
19 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:36.221 2.885
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber 1:36.705 3.369