Singapore GP Practice Three: Charles Leclerc turns tables on Ferrari rivals
Are Ferrari genuine threats for Singapore GP pole position after a P3 turnaround? Watch Qualifying live at 2pm on Sky Sports F1
By James Galloway in Singapore
Last Updated: 21/09/19 1:13pm
Charles Leclerc unexpectedly set the pace in final practice at the Singapore GP as upgraded Ferrari surprisingly usurped Friday pacesetters Mercedes and Red Bull.
Although Leclerc has won the past two races, the slow-speed nature of the Marina Bay street circuit has not been expected to suit their car and Friday's timesheet - when they finished 0.8s off Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen's pace - appeared to underline such theories.
But Leclerc, in particular, suddenly found an impressive groove early on Saturday, with his best lap time of 1:38.192 some two tenths quicker than Hamilton and 0.6s ahead of team-mate Vettel. Ferrari have brought nose and floor upgrades to this weekend in an attempt to pile on downforce, with seemingly encouraging results.
"That looks like a genuinely good lap time from Leclerc," said Sky F1's Anthony Davidson. "I thought we were going to be looking at a Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton fight."
Damon Hill added: "I think it's more than a threat than something which is simply flattering them ahead of qualifying. The car looks smooth."
Hamilton, who spun on an out lap, eventually cut Leclerc's advantage to 0.207s but Red Bull's Verstappen wound up 1.1s off the pace in sixth place.
Verstappen, who did encounter traffic on his best lap, finished just behind rookie team-mate Alex Albon, who was fifth.
Sergio Perez, meanwhile, is in danger of a gearbox penalty ahead of qualifying after hitting the barriers at Turn 21 mid-way through the session and doing damage to the rear of his Racing Point car.
At Toro Rosso-Honda, meanwhile, the team's mechanics are performing an engine change ahead of qualifying after Daniil Kvyat's STR14 starting smoking during P3. But the Russian should escape a grid drop.
In the likely battle for the final Q3 positions, McLaren appear to be the midfield team to beat heading in to qualifying with seventh-fastest Carlos Sainz and eighth-placed Lando Norris enjoying a half-second advantage over Renault counterparts Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo in Saturday afternoon's session.
Singapore GP Practice Three Timesheet
|1) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||1:38.192|
|2) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+0.207|
|3) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+0.619|
|4) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+0.693|
|5) Alexander Albon||Red Bull||+1.066|
|6) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||_1.174|
|7) Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+1.315|
|8) Lando Norris||McLaren||+1.517|
|9) Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+1.926|
|10) Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+1.961|
|11) Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+2.017|
|12) Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||+2.147|
|13) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+2.761|
|14) Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+2.793|
|15) George Russell||Williams||+2.964|
|16) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+2.977|
|17) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+3.302|
|18) Romain Grosjean||Haas||+3.350|
|19) Robert Kubica||Williams||+3.762|
|20) Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||No time|