Lewis Hamilton will go into qualifying for the Chinese GP having topped all three free practice sessions across Friday and Saturday.
Hamilton didn’t do a lot of running but what he did do was impressively quick. During the early running, where most were on the medium compound Pirellis, the World Champion emerged just over 15 minutes in for his first flying lap, jumping straight to the top of the times with a 1m39.776s.
That time stood until the qualifying simulations started in the second half of the session, but as soon as Hamilton switched to the soft tyres 13 minutes from time he jumped straight back to the top with a 1m37.615s.
That benchmark time proved 0.266s faster than team-mate Nico Rosberg managed, although Hamilton was up by 0.4s at the end of the sector.
Hamilton’s only hiccup in the session was when he was forced to stop due to his seat becoming uncomfortably hot.
Ferrari clinging on
Once again, it was the Ferraris that were second best to the Mercedes – and both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen managed to set qualifying simulations within a second of Hamilton.
Vettel was third quickest, 0.698s behind Hamilton, while Raikkonen was 0.897s arrears of the leading Mercedes.
Brakes continue to worry Red Bull
Brake problems continued to plague the Red Bull drivers throughout the 60-minute session, although Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were at least best of the rest on pace, finishing fifth and sixth quickest.
However, Kvyat’s session came to a worrying end; in the dying seconds of the session he radioed the team to say he had “lost power”, before crawling back to the pits.
While Carlos Sainz Jr was seventh fastest, and hot on the heels of Kvyat, Valtteri Bottas did manage to split the Toro Rossos by going just over three-hundredths quicker than Max Verstappen.
More problems for Alonso
Fernando Alonso’s session barely lasted 90 seconds, with his McLaren-Honda rolling to a stop with an engine problem on its out-lap.
Jenson Button, meanwhile, did get some decent running and managed to finish 15th fastest, just half a tenth behind the Sauber of Felipe Nasr.
|05||D. Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:39.020||+1.405||8|
|06||D. Kvyat||Red Bull||1:39.106||+1.491||14|
|07||C. Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:39.113||+1.498||17|
|09||M. Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:39.274||+1.659||19|
|12||N. Hülkenberg||Force India||1:39.513||+1.898||14|
|17||S. Pérez||Force India||1:39.781||+2.166||17|