Lewis Hamilton nearly half a second clear in FP3


Lewis Hamilton - Credit: Mercedes AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team

Lewis Hamilton topped final practice at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia nearly half a second faster than Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

The three-time World Champion looked in fine form setting a blistering time on the soft tyre, Mercedes continue to dominate proceedings but Nico Rosberg struggled to find pace settling for third behind the nineteen-year-old.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen set the fourth fastest time just ahead of his team-mate Sebastian Vettel who went into the weekend believing the Scuderia team can challenge for the win.

Daniel Ricciardo was over half a second slower than Verstappen in sixth but with fuel loads and a track evolution, these times have to be judged accordingly.

Sahara Force India and Williams Martini Racing continue to battle for the lower end of the top ten in FP3 with Carlos Sainz in the Toro Rosso splitting the two teams in ninth.  Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh just ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas while the Finn’s team-mates Felipe Massa narrowly beat Force India’s Sergio Perez.

McLaren Honda looked more competitive around Sepang with Jenson Button on his 300th Grand Prix finishing 12th while team-mate Fernando Alonso finished last in FP3 as he concentrated on race pace as he will start the race from the back of the grid following a number of engine element changes.

The Haas F1 Team had an eventful FP3 with both drivers going of the track as they push for grip but both drivers managed to put in a respectable lap time with Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean finishing thirteenth and fifteenth respectively.

Daniil Kvyat looked to struggle compared to team-mate Sainz as he finished down in seventeenth, the Russian has regained his form after a strong Singapore Grand Prix, while the usual suspects were at the bottom end of the lap times with Renault, Sauber and Manor rounding out the lower end of the times.

Hamilton’s pace looks ominous for qualifying but Rosberg will surely close the gap on his teammate while an impressive pace on the soft tyre can give Verstappen and Red Bull confidence heading into a tough and demanding qualifying in the sweltering heat of Malaysia.