Chinese GP: Vettel fastest as Ferrari sets stunning pace in FP3

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Chinese GP: Vettel fastest as Ferrari sets stunning pace in FP3
Andrew van Leeuwen
By: Andrew van Leeuwen
Apr 8, 2017, 5:00 AM

Australian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time in final practice for the Chinese GP in Shanghai to underline Ferrari’s strong start to the F1 2017 season.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB13
Lance Stroll, Williams FW40
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
The gloves of Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team
Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber C36
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team, watches his monitor from his cockpit

After Friday’s disastrous attempts failed to produce any meaningful running due to low cloud that precluded the medical helicopter from taking off, Saturday dawned dry yet smoggy.

The session produced a huge amount of running, as teams scrabbled to make up for lost time.

Vettel set the pace, leading a Ferrari 1-2 after Lewis Hamilton made a mistake on his final run for Mercedes.

Vettel ended up just five hundredths clear of teammate Kimi Raikkonen, setting his benchmark 1m33.336s during a supersofts run midway through the hour-long session.

Hamilton, meanwhile, wasted his opportunity to knock Vettel off top spot when he ran wide at the hairpin on his final supersofts run, having gone quickest in the first sector.

Story of the session

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo led the early running, jumping to the top with a 1m35.647s on supersofts, which left him the best part of two seconds clear of the likes of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.

Raikkonen moved the benchmark into the 1m34s right on the half-way point in the session with a 1m34.519s, despite complaining of a lack of front grip on the radio.

At almost the same time, Vettel made the move to the supersofts, taking more than a second out of Raikkonen’s time to go fastest with a 1m33.336s.

Felipe Massa’s Williams also made gains on the softer rubber around the same time, shifting into third with a 1m35.092s while Ricciardo improved to the identical time to the thousandth.

Valtteri Bottas, who lost his Mercedes' T-wing when it snapped off early in the session, made his move with 17 minutes to go, splitting the Ferraris at the top with a 1m34.333s. He was quickly replaced by teammate Hamilton, however, who went second with a 1m34.093.

But they were both shuffled back a spot several minutes later when Raikkonen restored the Ferrari 1-2 with a 1m33.389s.

Error from Hamilton

Hamilton then came out with a few minutes to go to have one more crack at the Ferraris, going fastest overall in Sector 1.

However, he overshot the turn-in to the hairpin at the end of the long back straight, which meant he only improved to a 1m33.879s.

That also gave Bottas the opportunity to sneak into third, jumping his teammate with a 1m33.707s on his final run.

Massa was best of the rest in fifth, improving to a 1m34.773s, while Max Verstappen jumped his Red Bull teammate Ricciardo with a 1m34.946s set inside the last 10 minutes.

Lance Stroll (Williams) and Jolyon Palmer (Renault) were next in line, while Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz was 10th quickest in the Toro Rosso. 

The fastest McLaren was Fernando Alonso in 17th, who managed to beat both Saubers and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne.

Chinese GP FP3

PosDriverChassisLapsTimeGap
1 germany  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari 20 1'33.336  
2 finland  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari 19 1'33.389 0.053
3 finland  Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes 26 1'33.707 0.371
4 united_kingdom  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes 25 1'33.879 0.543
5 brazil  Felipe Massa  Williams 23 1'34.773 1.437
6 netherlands  Max Verstappen  Red Bull 20 1'34.946 1.610
7 australia  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull 23 1'35.092 1.756
8 canada  Lance Stroll  Williams 24 1'35.182 1.846
9 united_kingdom  Jolyon Palmer  Renault 21 1'35.192 1.856
10 spain  Carlos Sainz Jr.  Toro Rosso 24 1'35.223 1.887
11 germany  Nico Hulkenberg  Renault 22 1'35.449 2.113
12 denmark  Kevin Magnussen  Haas 22 1'35.521 2.185
13 mexico  Sergio Perez  Force India 20 1'35.626 2.290
14 france  Romain Grosjean  Haas 22 1'35.680 2.344
15 russia  Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso 23 1'35.804 2.468
16 france  Esteban Ocon  Force India 24 1'35.811 2.475
17 spain  Fernando Alonso  McLaren 17 1'35.912 2.576
18 sweden  Marcus Ericsson  Sauber 25 1'36.063 2.727
19 belgium  Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren 21 1'36.221 2.885
20 italy  Antonio Giovinazzi  Sauber 24 1'36.705 3.369
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