Sebastian Vettel edged team-mate Kimi Räikkonen to head a Ferrari one-two in a busy final practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas was third for Mercedes, almost four tenths of a second adrift of Vettel.
Vettel’s best lap of 1:33.336 came 20 minutes from the end of the session and put him over a second clear of Räikkönen. The Finn then responded with a lap of 1:33.389, just 0.053 behind the German. Ferrari’s supersoft pace set a tough benchmark for Mercedes to beat and when the team’s drivers emerged for their qualifying simulations, neither could rise to the challenge.
Bottas came closest, getting to within four tenths of Vettel’s P1 time. Hamilton might have gone quicker, with the Briton setting the best first sector time of all, but a ragged final sector left him half a second off the pace and in fourth place.
Felipe Massa was fourth fastest, the Williams driver finishing 1.4s behind Vettel. The Brazilian’s late run on supersofts displaced Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen who had risen up the order after spending the early part of the session on longer runs.
Verstappen was backed up by team-mate Daniel Riccirado. The Australian had set the pace early in the session on supersofts but faded as Ferrari and Mercedes vaulted up the order. Ricciardo finished the session with a best time of 1:35.092, more than 1.7s adrift of Vettel.
Lance Stroll confirmed William’s decent form at the Shanghai International Circuit by taking eighth place, though he was almost four tenths of a second slower than team-mate Massa.
Jolyon Palmer gave Renault hope of a decent outcome in qualifying by slotting into P9 with a time of 1:35.192, just under three hundredths of a second clear of Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz.
2017 Chinese Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m33.336s – 20
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1m33.389s 0.053s 19
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m33.707s 0.371s 26
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m33.879s 0.543s 25
5 Felipe Massa Williams 1m34.773s 1.437s 23
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m34.946s 1.610s 20
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1m35.092s 1.756s 23
8 Lance Stroll Williams 1m35.182s 1.846s 24
9 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m35.192s 1.856s 21
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1m35.223s 1.887s 24
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m35.449s 2.113s 22
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1m35.521s 2.185s 22
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1m35.626s 2.290s 20
14 Romain Grosjean Haas 1m35.680s 2.344s 22
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1m35.804s 2.468s 23
16 Esteban Ocon Force India 1m35.811s 2.475s 24
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1m35.912s 2.576s 17
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1m36.063s 2.727s 25
19 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1m36.221s 2.885s 21
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber 1m36.705s 3.369s 24