Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel put behind his Friday hit with the wall in Singapore to lead Saturday’s final free practice, clocking in with a highly impressive lap in 1m38.054s that left team mate Kimi Raikkonen 0.362s behind. The Ferrari duo had the upper hand over its Mercedes’ rivals, with Lewis Hamilton ending up P3 in front of team mate Valtteri Bottas, while Haas’ Romain Grosjean concluded the session ‘best of the rest’.
Saturday’s final dress rehearsal before this afternoon’s qualifying dawned hot and humid as usual in Singapore. One man seemingly under pressure is Sebastian Vettel who endured a poor opening day marked by a hit with the wall that limited the Ferrari driver’s running while team mate Kimi Raikkonen claimed the fastest time.
In the Mercedes camp, Valtteri Bottas was also in need of a good working session to try and edge closer to Lewis Hamilton. Marcus Ericsson and Fernando Alonso were the first to head out, eventually followed by half the field with the bulk undergoing installation laps.
Kimi Raikkonen produced the first benchmark time of the day, clocking in at 1m40.012s after a run on the hypersoft tyre, but Vettel – hardly showing caution after his mishap yesterday – was quick to follow suit, edging the Finn by a mere 0.004s. Once again, Mercedes’ drivers chose to run on the soft compound in the first half of the session, both men lapping consistently but without seeking an outright performance.
Contrary to the Silver Arrows pair, hypersoft runners Romain Grosjean and Esteban Ocon had their head down as they laid down a few good laps that put them among the top five, followed by Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly. Twenty minutes in to the session, everyone had put in a timed lap except the McLaren and Red Bull drivers. When the former finally sprang into action they put themselves among the top-ten, with Alonso sixth and Stoffel Vandoorne ninth. McLaren apparently used Friday as a test session, and properly got down to business in FP3.
Shortly after the half-way mark, a hypersoft-shod Vettel popped up an impressive 1m38.054, almost a second faster than Raikkonen!
More importantly however was the apparent ease with which he achieved his time, flowing through the corners with minimum effort, a positive sign for the Scuderia and it’s the German ahead of this afternoon’s qualifying.
Verstappen’s first flying lap, on the soft tyre, yielded a time good enough for third behind the Ferraris and ahead of Ocon and Perez. But the Dutchman expressed his frustration over the radio, complaining of engine braking.
Hamilton and Bottas climbed up the timesheet to position themselves 3rd and 4th but well off the Ferrari duo up ahead.
The top four closed up a bit in the final minutes of free practice session but Vettel remained unassailable, setting himself up nicely for this evening’s grid-defining session. He may have to count once again on his team mate throwing a spanner in the works while Mercedes can’t be discarded as a force to be reckoned with.
Here are the results from the third and final practice session ahead of round 15 of the 2018 Formula 1 season at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
FP3 Results – 2018 Singapore Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:38.054
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +0.362
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.504
Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +0.549
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing +1.132
Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing +1.211
Romain Grosjean Haas +1.693
Esteban Ocon Force India +2.019
Fernando Alonso McLaren +2.200
Nico Hulkenberg Renault +2.396
Sergio Perez Force India +2.424
Kevin Magnussen Haas +2.505
Carlos Sainz Renault +2.537
Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso +2.632
Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren +2.744
Charles Leclerc Sauber +2.861
Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso +3.508
Sergey Sirotkin Williams +3.830
Marcus Ericsson Sauber +3.899
Lance Stroll Williams +4.166