After Nico Rosberg dominated Friday Practice it was team-mate Lewis Hamilton who lead the way in the third and final pre-practice session. He ended up a second clear of Rosberg but Sebastian Vettel continued Ferrari’s early positive pace to split the Silver Arrows, about seven tenths off Hamilton’s time.
Once again drivers ran the medium compound tyre before swapping to the softs. Hamilton set the best time on the medium compound ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. He then went faster still on the option tyres and Vettel was the driver who was able to get closest. Rosberg ended the session third, ahead of Bottas, Massa and Raikkonen. The gap from Rosberg to Raikkonen was just two tenths of a second suggesting that the battle for the front two rows in qualifying could be very close. Lotus had a strong showing as they ended the session in seventh and eighth – Romain Grosjean ahead of Pastor Maldonado. Rounding out the top ten were impressive rookies Carlos Sainz and Felipe Nasr.
The Brazilian Sauber driver was just two hundredths ahead of Max Verstappen. A bit further back in 12th was Marcus Ericsson ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen, Jenson Button and Daniil Kvyat. Red Bull had more problems and Kvyat completed just six laps. McLaren also continued to be no-where and are concerned about qualifying on the back row of the grid.
It was good news for the Sauber duo as the team reached an agreement with Giedo van der Garde that he would not race this weekend. They will continue to have talks to reach a mutual agreement between the two, which could see van der Garde race in Malaysia but in the mean-time Nasr and Ericsson will compete for the team. For Manor there was not such good news as the team failed to fix the software issues they have faced and didn’t get out of the garage again. It looks unlikely they will make qualifying and instead are looking to Malaysia to make their debut.
Free Practice Three times:
- Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:27.867 – 11 laps
- Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 1:28.563 – 13 laps
- Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:28.821 – 14 laps
- Valtteri Bottas – Williams – 1:28.912 – 14 laps
- Felipe Massa – Williams – 1:28.988 – 18 laps
- Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:29.017 – 13 laps
- Romain Grosjean – Lotus – 1:29.481 – 12 laps
- Pastor Maldonado – Lotus – 1:29.864 – 15 laps
- Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso – 1:29.869 – 19 laps
- Felipe Nasr – Sauber – 1:29.934 – 24 laps
- Max Verstappen – Toro Rosso – 1:29.952 – 16 laps
- Marcus Ericsson – Sauber – 1:30.613 – 21 laps
- Nico Hulkenberg – Force India – 1:30.741 – 14 laps
- Sergio Perez – Force India – 1:30.993 – 17 laps
- Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 1:31.185 – 10 laps
- Kevin Magnussen – McLaren – 1:31.391 – 14 laps
- Jenson Button – McLaren – 1:31.666 – 13 laps
- Daniil Kvyat – Red Bull – 1:32.830 – 6 laps