Verstappen edges Vettel as McLaren fourth and fifth in Singapore final practice
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen headed final practice at Marina Bay after edging the recovering Ferrari of Vettel by less than a tenth, whilst McLaren’s Alonso and Vandoorne were fourth and fifth, and under a second adrift of the pace-setting lap.
Max Verstappen’s fastest lap was a 1.41.829, which was a little under a tenth fastest than Vettel’s flying lap – who made a swift recovery, however later faced reliability issues.
Story of the session
As Practice three got underway, underperforming Mercedes and Ferrari quickly headed to track to make initiate the long list of research to do during practice. Unlike yesterday, Ferrari were fast out of the box; Vettel flew to the top of the time-sheets with a 1.43.237, with Raikkonen almost a second adrift. Meanwhile, Mercedes rivals Hamilton and Bottas continued to struggle, as the newly resigned Finn couldn’t get within 1.5 seconds of the leading Ferrari, whilst Hamilton was almost a second adrift.
Given the deficit of Vettel’s rivals, Perez — in the upgraded Force India — was able to split the two Ferrari’s at the top, going second fastest albeit 0.7s slower.
The Red Bull’s were next to head out onto circuit. Although Ricciardo was 0.3s adrift of then-pace-setter Vettel, Verstappen was able to go almost a second faster than Vettel to set a 1.42.249s. Ricciardo soon went second fastest, albeit 0.268s off Verstappen’s first lap.
The first red flag of the session was thanks to Marcus Ericsson, who spun round and hit the wall, which wrecked the rear-end of his Sauber.
As the session restarted, there was a hurry to get out onto circuit with some 19 minutes remaining.
Upon the restart, Vettel was able to go fastest by 0.3s, whilst the two Mercedes’ continued to struggle, but were able to raise themselves to fourth and fifth.
Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso in the McLaren Honda went an excellent fourth fastest ahead of the two Mercedes’, and just trailed the two Red Bull’s and the Ferrari of Vettel. Hamilton was soon able to imporve to go third, albeit 0.524s slower than his main title rival.
As the Red Bull’s came out for another attempt, Verstappen just about edged Vettel to go fastest 0.072s, whilst Ricciardo clipped the wall.
Hamilton soon put in a competitive time, going third fastest, 0.142s adrift of Verstappen’s lap. Fernando Alonso soon went even faster to go fourth, whilst Vandoorne was fifth.