FP3: Vettel and Ferrari in Command in Singapore
He may have hit the wall on Friday, but Sebastian Vettel was still throwing caution to the wind on Saturday evening as he dominated final practice at Marina Bay for Ferrari. Vettel finished three-tenths clear of team mate Kimi Raikkonen, as Mercedes tried in vain to stay in touch with the scarlet cars.
Ferrari set the pace from the outset, and despite Lewis Hamilton’s best efforts the world champion could not get within half a second of his title rival, with Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas setting an almost identical time in fourth.
Red Bull had been tipped for big things here, but it was an inconclusive session for the Milton Keynes team. Max Verstappen spent almost half the hour in the garage, complaining first of transmission and then engine issues, neither component behaving predictably for him.
The Dutchman ended up sixth fastest, just behind team mate Daniel Ricciardo – though it should be noted that both did only limited late running on the quickest hypersoft tyre compound.
Haas were ‘best of the rest’ courtesy of Romain Grosjean in seventh, the Frenchman three-tenths ahead of a very tight midfield battle.
That battle was led by Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso completing the top 10. But from there on, just six-tenths of a second covered the next six drivers, down to Sauber’s Charles Leclerc in 16th.
The session was remarkably incident free, with no spins or contact with the walls. The only small drama came when Ocon was released into the path of Kevin Magnussen’s Haas in the pit lane – stewards fined Force India €5,000 for the incident.
Now we wait for nightfall, the floodlights and qualifying – will the decreasing temperatures help Mercedes or Red Bull spring a surprise and keep Ferrari off pole? Stay tuned…