Ferrari is showing a lot of strength this weekend.
Fernando Alonso went quickest in the final practice session ahead of qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix, edging out Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo by just five hundredths of a second. Nico Rosberg was third for Mercedes, just under two tenths of a second behind Alonso.
The session ran to the usual programme of prime tyre runs followed by a quick flurry on the option tyres at the end, and on the soft tyre at the beginning of the hour it was Red Bull Racing’s drivers who set the pace. Sebastian Vettel, seeking to make up the time lost in FP2 when he sat out most of the session due to a power unit failure in the first Friday outing, jumped to the top of the timesheets with a lap of 1:50.393. That was quickly beaten by team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who became the first driver of the evening to dip into the 1min49s bracket.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams had yet to show their hand however, with their drivers only having completed installs at the start of the session. Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen were the first from those outfits to appear, both heading out for their first runs just after the 20-minute mark. And after Raikkonen had jumped to third place, Rosberg emphatically claimed P1 with a lap of 1:49.575, over a second quicker than Ricciardo’s best at the point. Hamilton soon joined his team-mate at the sharp end of the timesheet, slotting into second place, though he was seven tenths down on the German, with Ricciardo now third.
Close call for Hamilton
Hamilton had a wild moment at the start of his first run, however, the Englishman losing control of his Mercedes at turn five and slewing sideways. He regained control and then reported that his engine had mysteriously stalled and then restarted, causing him to spin.
Williams’ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas soon also took to the track and they slotted into P4 and P5 respectively as the hour mark approached.
Alonso was the last to set a time in the session, the Ferrari driver emerging with 30 minutes remaining and he was soon in the mix, the Spaniard ousting Bottas from P4 with a time of 1:49.614, still a second adrift of Rosberg’s benchmark.
Ricciardo, though, was making gains and on his next run moved ahead of Hamilton to claim P2 and narrow the deficit to Rosberg to 0.6s. After admitting to his team over the radio that he had overdriven that lap, he close further to 0.543 behind Mercedes’ pacesetter.
He was joined in the effort by Vettel, whose final run on the soft tyre yielded a fastest final sector. His time of 1:49.180 was good enough for P3, six tenths down on Rosberg, a tenth clear of Hamilton and four ahead of Alonso.
Rosberg led on primes
With the move to option tyres in the offing, the top-10 order on the prime tyre was: Rosberg, Ricciardo, Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Bottas, Massa, Raikkonen, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat.
With just over 15 minutes to go, Rosberg became the first to make the switch to supersofts. His first flyer was more than a second quicker than his best soft tyre time, the German establishing a new benchmark of 1:47.488.
Alonso, though, bounced the Mercedes man to P2 with his first flyer on the options, his 1:47.299, beating the German by almost two tenths. Ricciardo too eclipsed the Mercedes, taking P2 with a lap just five hundredths of a second slower than Alonso’s.
And that was how the top three remained. Behind Alonso, Ricciardo and Rosberg, Vergne popped up with a good run on the options tyre to claim fourth sport with a time of 1:47.693, just under four tenths slower than Alonso’s P1 time. Vettel finished the session on fifth place, ahead of Hamilton, Massa, Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen. Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez completed the top 10 order.
2014 Singapore Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Times
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:47.299
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:47.350 0.051
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:47.488 0.189
4 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:47.693 0.394
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:47.711 0.412
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:47.738 0.439
7 Felipe Massa Williams 1:47.909 0.610
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:48.205 0.906
9 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:48.226 0.927
10 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:48.422 1.123
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:48.450 1.151
12 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:48.577 1.278
13 Jenson Button McLaren 1:48.599 1.300
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:48.637 1.338
15 Sergio Perez Force India 1:49.078 1.779
16 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:49.115 1.816
17 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:49.485 2.186
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:50.149 2.850
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:50.376 3.077
20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:50.939 3.640
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:51.221 3.922
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:51.598 4.299
FIA Formula One