FP3: Vettel quickest, as Hamilton spins

Sebastian Vettel led a Ferrari one-two during final practice in China, but it was a morning to forget for both Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hailton.

Cold temperatures, overnight rain and a strong wind made for a green track and an uncomfortable final practice session for some of the drivers.

Friday’s tail wind became a head wind in some places, as Pierre Gasly found out. The Toro Rosso youngster learned that Astroturf holds water even when the track is completely dry.

Lewis Hamilton also discovered that as he ran wide at turn 10, put two wheels onto the super slippery Astroturf, and around he went.

Romain Grosjean was another spinner.

With many in the pit lane unsure as to what tyres could be best in Q2, given that those are the race tyres, there was a mix of strategies throughout practice with Ferrari opting to go straight onto the ultrasofts while Mercedes ran the soft tyres.

Halfway through the 60-minute session, and with rain in the air, Vettel led the way with a 1:33.689 with Valtteri Bottas second.

Kimi Raikkonen was third, a full second down, while Hamilton – despite struggling at turns two, nine, 10 and 14 – was fourth.

Ricciardo’s practice ended with 25 minutes on the clock as the Renault engine in his RB14 let go in a plume of smoke. That could be his day over as Red Bull have just over two hours to change the engine before qualifying begins at 2pm local time.

Heading out for a second run on the ultrasoft tyres, Raikkonen edged Vettel for the top spot with a 1:33.469 but the championship leader came back with a 1:33.018. That put him 0.451s up on his team-mate.

Mercedes made the swap to the ultras but Bottas could not improve on his third place, although he did close the gap to 0.7s, while Hamilton finished fifth.

The team-mates were separated by Max Verstappen.

Hamilton was followed by Kevin Magnussen and the Force India pairing of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon while Carlos Sainz and Sergey Sirotkin completed the top 10.

FP3 times
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.018
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0.451s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.743s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.951s
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.039s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1.311s
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1.427s
8 Esteban Ocon Force India 1.438s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1.564s
10 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1.723s
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1.823s
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1.833s
13 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1.959s
14 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1.973s
15 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 2.043s
16 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 2.061s
17 Lance Stroll Williams 2.357s
18 Charles Leclerc Sauber 2.479s
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 2.661s
20 Romain Grosjean Haas 2.738s

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