Malaysia GP Practice Three: Ferrari quickest, Mercedes struggle again
Late engine scare for Vettel; Mercedes still half a second behind; Hamilton reverts to old aero package; Verstappen and Palmer collide in bizarre incident; Qualy starts at 10am
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 10/10/17 12:02pm
Mercedes' struggles continued in final practice for the Malaysia GP as Ferrari set the pace again.
Kimi Raikkonen was quickest of all, two tenths ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
There was, however, a late scare for Vettel when his car suffered an engine glitch and the German was instructed to coast back to the pits.
The severity of the issue remains to be seen with just two hours between the end of Practice Three and the start of qualifying. Initial reports have suggested the Scuderia are having to change Vettel's engine.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest while team-mate Max Verstappen was involved in a bizarre incident in the final moments when he collided with Renault's Jolyon Palmer.
But the talking point of the session was the ongoing sluggish form of world champions Mercedes.
The team have been presented with something of a mystery this weekend after suddenly losing their normally-peerless pace in Friday practice. While Valtteri Bottas continued with the new aerodynamic parts suspected of contributing to their unexpected slump, Hamilton reverted to the old-style kit for Saturday morning's practice hour.
But neither Silver Arrows driver was able to keep pace with the Ferraris or Red Bull of Ricciardo. Bottas was fourth quickest, half a second behind Raikkonen's benchmark, with Hamilton two tenths back in fifth.
Force India's Sergio Perez was the best of the rest in seventh, fractionally ahead of Felipe Massa's Williams, with Esteban Ocon and Stoffel Vandoorne rounding off the top ten.
Verstappen's Red Bull was punctured during his collision with Palmer as the Renault tried to overtake into the final corner to start a hot lap.
In time-honoured fashion, both drivers blamed each other for causing the incident but have been summoned to the stewards to explain.
At Ferrari, meanwhile, a race against time is underway to fix Vettel's car for qualifying.
Malaysia GP Practice Three Timesheet
|1) Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||1:31.880|
|2) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+ 0.162|
|3) Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+ 0.211|
|4) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 0.499|
|5) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.659|
|6) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.699|
|7) Sergio Perez||Force India||+ 1.329|
|8) Felipe Massa||Williams||+ 1.360|
|9) Esteban Ocon||Force India||+ 1.410|
|10) Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda||+ 1.441|
|11) Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda||+ 1.650|
|12) Lance Stroll||Williams||+ 1.658|
|13) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 1.907|
|14) Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+ 1.991|
|15) Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||+ 2.044|
|16) Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||+ 2.326|
|17) Jolyon Palmer||Renault||+ 2.595|
|18) Romain Grosjean||Haas||+ 3.034|
|19) Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||+ 3.056|
|20) Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber||+ 3.165|