Chinese GP Practice Three: Sebastian Vettel tops Ferrari one-two
Hamilton makes mistake on his final flying run and ends up fourth
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 08/04/17 7:00am
Sebastian Vettel topped a Ferrari one-two in Saturday Practice for the Chinese GP as the Scuderia maintained their impressive start to the F1 2017 season.
As the field enjoyed their first meaningful running of the weekend after Friday's write-off, Kimi Raikkonen all-but matched Vettel's early benchmark lap of 1:33.336, finishing the session less than a tenth behind the Australian GP victor.
"The Ferraris look strong and sharp," enthused Sky F1's Paul di Resta. "Mercedes have work to do."
Ferrari haven't been on pole position in China since the inaugural Shanghai race in 2004 but Vettel was also fastest in final practice for the season-opening race in Melbourne before being edged out by Lewis Hamilton in qualifying.
Valtteri Bottas was third quickest for Mercedes behind the Ferraris but Hamilton was matching Vettel's fastest lap through the opening two sectors of his final flying lap before making a mistake in Turn 14 when he missed the hairpin.
Earlier in the session, the so-called 'T-wing' at the rear of Bottas' car dislodged itself from the bodywork of the Finn's W08 and Bottas repeatedly ran wide in the final corner when he returned to action.
Mercedes typically run with more fuel on board in practice than their leading rivals but the substantial size of their deficit to the Ferraris was a surprise.
Felipe Massa was fifth for Williams, just ahead of both Red Bulls, with rookie team-mate Lance Stroll eighth.
But with a second of lap time between Massa and the fourth-placed Hamilton, Mercedes and Ferrari will enter this morning's qualifying hour seemingly in a class of their own.
As feared, McLaren struggled and appear in grave danger of being eliminated at the first hurdle in qualifying, but the fallen superpowers did at least finish the session ahead of the Saubers.
Fernando Alonso was 17th, three tenths ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne. The Belgian has been outpaced by the Spaniard in every session so far this season.
Qualifying takes place at 8am UK time. Although the weather conditions have improved markedly overnight, rain is forecast for Sunday's race day.
Chinese GP Practice Three Timesheet
1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:33.336
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, +0.053
3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, +0.371
4. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +0.543
5. Felipe Massa, Williams, +1.437
6. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, +1.610
7. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +1.756
8. Lance Stroll, Williams, +1.846
9. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, +1.856
10. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, +1.887
11. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, +2.113
12. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +2.185
13. Sergio Perez, Force India, + 2.290
14. Romain Grosjean, Haas, +2.344
15. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, + 2.468
16. Esteban Ocon, Force India, + 2.475
17. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, +2.576
18. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, + 2.727
19. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, +2.885
20. Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber, +3.369
Watch the Chinese GP live only on Sky Sports F1 and in incredible Ultra HD! The race begins at 7am on Sunday. Check out all the ways to watch F1 on Sky Sports for subscribers and non-subscribers - including a NOW TV day pass for £6.99!