Kimi Raikkonen led a Scuderia Ferrari 1-2 in final practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, but it was not a straightforward session for the Maranello-based team, who saw Sebastian Vettel return slowly to the pit lane with an engine-related issue.
Vettel was informed of the issue on his SF70H late in the session and although he returned to the pits, his session was over and his mechanics were forced into an engine change before qualifying.
Raikkonen however was unflustered, and he set the best time of the session with a 1:31.880s, 0.162 seconds better than Vettel, and 0.211 seconds ahead of third placed Daniel Ricciardo, who once again found himself ahead of both of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers.
Unlike on Friday however, Mercedes appeared to show a lot more competitiveness around the Sepang International Circuit, with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton finishing fourth and fifth, with the latter losing time on his final qualifying simulation when he made a mistake at the final corner.
Max Verstappen was sixth fastest for Red Bull Racing, 0.699 seconds off the pace on his twentieth birthday, although his session was disrupted by an incident involving Jolyon Palmer at the final corner.
Verstappen was readying himself for a fast lap heading into the turn only for the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver, on a quick lap himself, to dive up his inside, only for the duo to clash. The Dutchman suffered a spin and a puncture, while Palmer suffered a broken front wing.
Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were seventh and ninth fastest for the Sahara Force India F1 Team, either side of Felipe Massa in the leading of the Williams Martini Racing entries, while Stoffel Vandoorne completed the top ten for the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team, just ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso.
Lance Stroll ended up twelfth for Williams ahead of Kevin Magnussen, with the Dane losing some valuable track time during the session with a possible engine issue, although the Haas F1 Team racer was able to get back out on track to improve his time.
The Renault team struggled to fourteenth for Nico Hülkenberg and seventeenth for Palmer, with the two Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers sandwiched between them, Carlos Sainz Jr. almost three-tenths of second faster than debutant Pierre Gasly.
After crashing out of second practice on Friday afternoon after running over a loose drain cover, Romain Grosjean was able to get out on track with his repaired car but could only finish eighteenth fastest, with his session including a lock-up and spin, although he did manage to finish ahead of the two Sauber F1 Team drivers, Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.
Sepang International Circuit Free Practice 3 Result
|1||7||Kimi Raikkonen||FIN||Scuderia Ferrari||1:31.880||19|
|2||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari||1:32.042||+0.162s||14|
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull Racing||1:32.091||+0.211s||16|
|4||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:32.329||+0.449s||24|
|5||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:32.539||+0.659s||20|
|6||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing||1:32.579||+0.699s||17|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Sahara Force India F1 Team||1:33.209||+1.329s||20|
|8||19||Felipe Massa||BRZ||Williams Martini Racing||1:33.240||+1.360s||20|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Sahara Force India F1 Team||1:33.290||+1.410s||21|
|10||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||BEL||McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team||1:33.321||+1.441s||16|
|11||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team||1:33.530||+1.650s||17|
|12||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Williams Martini Racing||1:33.538||+1.658s||21|
|13||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1:33.787||+1.907s||10|
|14||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Renault Sport Formula 1 Team||1:33.871||+1.991s||14|
|15||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1:33.924||+2.044s||22|
|16||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1:34.206||+2.326s||24|
|17||30||Jolyon Palmer||GBR||Renault Sport Formula 1 Team||1:34.475||+2.595s||12|
|18||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Haas F1 Team||1:34.914||+3.034s||19|
|19||9||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Sauber F1 Team||1:34.936||+3.056s||19|
|20||94||Pascal Wehrlein||GER||Sauber F1 Team||1:35.045||+3.165s||19|