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F1 - China, FP3: Vettel tops final practice

Ricciardo suffers suspected engine failure

14 April 2018 - 06h09, by Olivier Ferret 

Sebastian Vettel set the pace in final practice beating team-mate Kimi Räikkönen by more than four tenths of a second, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas third. There was trouble for Daniel Ricciardo, though, with the Red Bull driver exiting the session with what looked to be an engine failure.

In cool temperatures and with a strong wind sweeping across the track, the session was slow to get going with Räikkönen setting the early pace with a time of 1:34.794. That stood until Ferrari team-mate Vettel joined the fray. The German promptly lowered the benchmark to 1:33.689, some 1.1s ahead of the Finn 18 minutes in.

As the session approached the half hour mark Lewis Hamilton had a lurid spin after getting onto the artificial grass on the exit of Turn 10. The Briton’s Mercedes swapped ends as he lost grip but he escaped unscathed, save for a large flat spot on his left-front tyre.

Red Bull Racing’s drivers sat out most of the first half of the session but when they did appear Ricciardo quickly jumped to sixth on the timesheet, 1.3s behind Vettel. The Australian didn’t get an opportunity to improve on that, however, as within minutes he was grinding to a halt with smoke and flames billowing from the back of his car – a suspected turbo failure ending his session and giving his team a race against time to ready his car for qualifying.

Team-mate Max Verstappen fared better and after running in P13 he vaulted to fourth place when the field made the switch to ultrasoft tyres. It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Dutchman, however, and he complained of power delivery isssues a number of time during the session.

Ahead, Vettel managed to hold station at the top of the order with an ultrasoft run of 1:33.018. That beat the earlier benchmark of 1:33469 set by team-mate Räikkönen, though the Finn’s lap was good enough to keep him almost three tenths of a second in front of Mercedes driver Bottas.

With Verstappen a further two tenths of a second back, fifth place went to defending champion Lewis Hamilton, whose scrappy session saw him finish a full second adrift of Vettel.

Haas’ Kevin Magnussen took sixth spot 1.3s behind Vettel, with the Force Indias of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon seventh and eighth respectively. Renault’s Carlos Sainz and Williams rookie Sergey Sirotkin completed the Top 10.

01 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.018 14
02 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:33.469 21
03 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG 1:33.761 16
04 Max Verstappen Red Bull Tag Heuer 1:33.969 14
05 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG 1:34.057 14
06 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:34.329 25
07 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:34.445 14
08 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:34.456 16
09 Carlos Sainz Renault F1 1:34.582 20
10 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:34.741 13
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault F1 1:34.841 16
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 1:34.851 13
13 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 1:34.977 16
14 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso Honda 1:34.991 20
15 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Tag Heuer 1:35.061 4
16 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda 1:35.079 16
17 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:35.375 16
18 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:35.497 14
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:35.679 13
20 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:35.756 6

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