After an opening pair of Friday sessions topped by Max Verstappen and then Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc went quickest in FP3, beating Hamilton by two tenths of a second in the final practice session before qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix.
Third place in the session went to Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari, though the German was six tenths off his team-mate’s pace while Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was fourth ahead of the Red Bull cars of Alexander Albon and Max Verstappen.
Leclerc led from early on in the session. Both Mercedes drivers used medium tyres in the opening exchanges but Ferrari sent its pairing out on soft tyres from the off and that meant that Leclerc was able to take control of P1 with a lap of 1:39.364, some seven tenths of a second ahead of Hamilton, with soft Vettel in third, eight tenths off the pace. Bottas was fourth Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez fourth ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and the Red Bull of Albon. Verstappen, though stayed put in his team’s garage for the opening half hour.
Pérez’s good fortune in the session came to an end soon after, however. The Mexican driver got slightly out of shape on the approach to Turn 21 and that was enough to send him wide in mid-corner. He hit the wall with both right-side wheels and a rear-right puncture sent him limping back to the pit lane. The Virtual Safety Car was initially deployed but with debris on the track the session was eventually red-flagged.
After the brief stoppage to clear the track, Bottas took to soft compound Pirellis for the first time in the session and he immediately jumped to P1. Verstappen, whose opening run had been disrupted by the safety car, was the next across the line and he jumped to P3 with a lap of 1:39.366.
Leclerc, though, was also into his quali sim and when he crossed the line he was a substantial 0.974 clear of Bottas.
As the quali sims were ticked off it was Hamilton who got closest to the young Ferrari driver. The Briton posted a best time of 1:38.399 to take P2. He might have gone quicker but a late, harmless spin at Turn 3 put paid to any attempt.
With Vettel third ahead of Bottas, fifth place went to Red Bull’s Alex Albon who posted a best lap of 1:39.258 – a full second adrift of Leclerc.
Verstappen, meanwhile, was unable to improve on his first run of the day. The Dutchman put in two good sectors at the start of another run later in the session, but traffic early in the third sector and a ragged end to the lap meant he had to settle for sixth place ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.
Eighth place went to Norris, with the Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo in ninth and tenth respectively.
2019 FIA Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 15 1:38.192
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 15 1:38.399 0.207
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 13 1:38.811 0.619
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 16 1:38.885 0.693
5 Alex Albon Red Bull Racing 14 1:39.258 1.066
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 9 1:39.366 1.174
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren 14 1:39.507 1.315
8 Lando Norris McLaren 13 1:39.709 1.517
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 15 1:40.118 1.926
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 12 1:40.153 1.961
11 Lance Stroll Racing Point 11 1:40.209 2.017
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 15 1:40.339 2.147
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 16 1:40.953 2.761
14 Sergio Perez Racing Point 4 1:40.985 2.793
15 George Russell Williams 13 1:41.156 2.964
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 14 1:41.169 2.977
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 12 1:41.494 3.302
18 Romain Grosjean Haas 12 1:41.542 3.350
19 Robert Kubica Williams 13 1:41.954 3.762
20 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 3