Rain reduces FP3 session, as Vettel tops the times


Sebastian Vettel topped the times in a rain disrupted final practice session at the Shanghai International Circuit on Saturday morning.

The German set a time of 1:57.351, to take him seven tenths clear of the Williams of Valtteri Bottas in second, but many drivers, including the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, decided not to take to the track and set a time in the inclement conditions.

When the session began the rain was coming down heavily, and for fifteen minutes everybody remained safe and warm inside the pits, until conditions abated and Bottas headed out onto track, followed by team-mate Felipe Massa. The Finn ended the session in second place, ahead of Sergio Perez who had quietly sidled up to P3 in the Force India.

Kimi Raikkonen had initially led the session on full wet tyres, at the midway point, setting a time of 2:00.812, which remained the Finn’s best time, having not attempted a run on the intermediates.

The Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were the first to switch from full wets to intermediates, but after some initial sighter laps, where both drivers were setting purple sectors, the pair made the decision to abort their laps and ultimately save their tyres for qualifying, with no times set. Their change prompted others to bolt on the intermediates however, and with around fifteen minutes of the final practice session remaining, Vettel emerged to set a time of 1:57.351. That remained unchallenged for the remainder of FP3, despite improvements from others late on, as track conditions improved.

Mercedes drivers Rosberg and Hamilton, alongside the McLaren drivers of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, all opted not to waste their tyres and set no time during the FP3 session, although did venture out onto track to complete installation laps. Romain Grosjean also did not put down a timed lap in the Haas after losing the telemetry, whilst Marcus Ericsson had technical issues in the Sauber.

Carlos Sainz moved the Toro Rosso into P4 late on, just ahead of Esteban Gutierrez in the Haas who for once was able to have a trouble-free session, and Jolyon Palmer finished in P6 despite obtaining a right rear puncture on the RS-16, earlier in the session. Renault Sport F1 team-mate Kevin Magnussen, was just a tenth further back in P7.

Pascal Wehrlein again impressed in the Manor, sitting as high as P5 at one point before ending the session in P8, with Max Verstappen slotting into P9 in the second of the Toro Rosso runners, and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten in the Force India.

Felipe Nasr was P11 in the first of the Sauber runners, with Raikkonen, who set his time early on the full wets. was P12. The Williams of Massa took P12, and Rio Haryanto completed the final slot on the timed leader board in P13.

With it not set to rain during the qualifying session later today, the disruption during FP3 will not have helped the teams as they prepare for the crucial session, and the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday.

Pos. No. Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel VET Ferrari 1:57.351 3
2 77 Valtteri Bottas BOT Williams 1:58.061 +0.710s 7
3 11 Sergio Perez PER Force India 1:58.689 +1.338s 4
4 55 Carlos Sainz SAI Toro Rosso 1:58.800 +1.449s 9
5 21 Esteban Gutierrez GUT Haas 1:59.526 +2.175s 7
6 30 Jolyon Palmer PAL Renault 1:59.677 +2.326s 7
7 20 Kevin Magnussen MAG Renault 1:59.761 +2.410s 9
8 94 Pascal Wehrlein WEH Manor 1:59.964 +2.613s 8
9 33 Max Verstappen VES Toro Rosso 2:00.150 +2.799s 6
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg HUL Force India 2:00.158 +2.807s 4
11 12 Felipe Nasr NAS Sauber 2:00.197 +2.846s 8
12 7 Kimi Räikkönen RAI Ferrari 2:00.812 +3.461s 5
13 19 Felipe Massa MAS Williams 2:02.438 +5.087s 4
14 88 Rio Haryanto HAR Manor 2:02.732 +5.381s 5
15 22 Jenson Button BUT McLaren 3
16 14 Fernando Alonso ALO McLaren 3
17 8 Romain Grosjean GRO Haas 4
18 26 Daniil Kvyat KVY Red Bull Racing 4
19 6 Nico Rosberg ROS Mercedes 2
20 3 Daniel Ricciardo RIC Red Bull Racing 3
21 44 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 2
22 9 Marcus Ericsson ERI Sauber 1