Hamilton turns up the heat in FP3


There a mixture of happiness and unhappiness following yesterday's sessions.

A number of drivers are not entirely happy with the resurfacing of the Sepang track or the re-profiling of the corners, especially T15.

On the other hand a few drivers were happy. Max Verstappen is delighted with his long run pace, and also the soft tyres, while Fernando Alonso is very happy with his updated power unit.

So delighted in fact that he has taken another one and will therefore incur a further grid penalty. However, as he had already been hit with a 30-place grid drop one can see the reasoning - though that little loophole will be shut next year.

Though Red Bull and Ferrari look strong, it was business as usual for Mercedes, with Nico Rosberg quickest in FP1 and Lewis Hamilton quickest in the second session. That said, while the silver cars were particularly strong over a single lap, the competition was closer on the long runs... so there is hope.

The resurfacing, re-profiling and heat are taking their toll on the tyres as expected, with most teams experiencing degradation.

Ahead of this final practice session, the air temperature is 32 degrees C, while the track temperature is 51 degrees. Nonetheless, there is 20% chance of rain... and as we know, when it rains here...

Long before the lights go green Alonso is waiting at the end of the pitlane, however, as he prepares for a practice start a number of drivers, including Gutierrez, Ericsson and Magnussen, get the jump on him.

Magnussen is particularly keen to get to work having lost much of yesterday's running due to the fire in the opening couple of minutes of FP1.

The Dane posts the first time of the day (40.272) with teammate Palmer posting 41.266 moments later.

To ensure his lived data is in sync, Vettel calls out the corners one-by-one as he encounters them.

Ricciardo posts a 36.875, the first 'sensible' time of the day, as Wehrlein goes third, ahead of Ocon, Palmer, Kvyat and Sainz.

"Alonso the only driver on softs," says Pirelli. "These conditions are not very representative of qualifying though."

Ricciardo improves to 36.483 as his rivals appear to be waiting for temperatures to cool just a little, more comparable to qualifying and tomorrow.

A 36.625 sees Hulkenberg go second, the German, like Alonso, on the softs. Moments later teammate Perez goes third with a 36.955 only to be demoted when Massa posts 36.783.

A steering issue for Verstappen whose car was pulling to the right.

Seventeen minutes into the session the Mercedes duo finallt emerge, both are on the medium rubber.

A spin for Gutierrez at the infamous T15 while moments later teammate Grosjean takes a trip through the kitty litter in T6.

Gutierrez' spin compromises Rosberg's first flying lap while Hamilton posts 36.474 to go second... to Perez who has just posted 36.435.

"Just to let you know, I'm not saying there is something wrong with the car," says Grosjean following his excursion, "but van you find out because it's pointless driving around right now." Meanwhile Rosberg posts 36.361 to go quickest.

A spin for Vettel at T15 the Ferrari swaps ends and clouts the pitlane entry bollard in the process. One of the Saubers has to take avoiding action.

No sooner has Hamilton gone quickest (35.612) on mediums than Ricciardo, now on the softs, bangs in a 35.461.

Hulkenberg complains of 'pick-up', as countryman Rosberg seeks to close the 0.8s gap to his teammate.

Back on track, Verstappen's first time of the day sees the Dutch youngster go third with a 36.109.

At 'half-time', it's: Ricciardo, Hamilton, Verstappen, Rosberg, Perez, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Massa and Bottas.

Another driver later to join the time-setting party is Alonso, the Spaniard goes 21st with a 41.202, almost 6s off the pace. In the process he demotes countryman Sainz to last position.

Now on the softs, Perez fails to improve as crew members work on Wehrlein's car which is on its stand in the Manor garage.

As Palmer complains that his rear und is very unstable at high speed, Rosberg, now on the softs, posts 35.293 to go quickest. However, he's only 0.168s quicker than Ricciardo and 0.319s quicker than Hamilton who was on mediums.

Back on track, Wehrlein asks if the problem has been fixed. The call to return to the pits "now", suggests that the answer is negative.

Back on track, on the soft rubber, Hamilton is ominously quick in S1. He maintains the pace in S2, already 0.6s up on his teammate. At the line he posts 34.434 eclipsing Rosberg by 0.859.

Rosberg subsequently improves (35.053) but remains 0.619s off his teammate's pace.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Sepang, here.

With eleven minutes remaining the drivers head out for the qualifying sim runs, Vettel among the first.

Hamilton goes quickest in S1as Button posts 36.363 to go seventh. Hamilton loses a little pace in S2, and again in S3, meaning he fails to improve. Nonetheless, that was a very quick opening sector.

Vettel posts 35.291 to go third, 0.857s off Hamilton's time. The German is particularly weak in S3.

No such issues for Raikkonen, who posts PBs in all three sectors, crossing the line at 35.150 to go third. However, the Finn is demoted when Verstappen splits the Mercedes duo with a 34.879.

While Vettel improves with a 35.170 he remains fifth, 0.020s off his teammate's pace. Indeed, despite a strong S1 the Finn fails to improve.

With 2:40 on the clock, Hamilton heads out again.

Palmer is still unhappy with the handling of his Renault.

As Hamilton begins his final flying lap, Rosberg heads out, probably just to perform a practice start.

Hamilton isn't going for any sort of time, so is probably scrubbing a set of tyres.

Despite his issues Palmer improves to 14th with a 36.604.

The session ends with Hamilton quickest, ahead of Verstappen, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Sainz and Massa.

Perez is eleventh, ahead of Button, Gutierrez, Palmer, Grosjean, Magnussen, Kvyat, Ericsson, Nasr, Ocon, Wehrlein and Alonso.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Sepang, here.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 01/10/2016
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