The third practice session at the Chinese Grand Prix weekend was topped by Ferrari. Contrary to Friday's sessions, running was uninterrupted and enabled teams for the first time to really optimise their car set-ups ahead of qualifying.
Needless to say, it became an extremely busy session, as drivers and teams aimed to recover a small bit of time from Friday. It was clear that cars were running different fuel loads and different tyres early on as teams were trying to get more data.
Ferrari rapidly emerged atop the timesheet though, with Raikkonen first, and then Vettel going faster to set the best time of the day, around the halfway mark of the session. Raikkonen later further improved on his own time to get within 0.053s of his German team mate.
Mercedes focused longer on longer runs, with Bottas running without the T-wing on his Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton ran with the device on his car, but saw Bottas be after than him, most likely due to a mistake in turn 14 on his fastest lap, leaving him 4th. Overall, Ferrari's advantage over the Mercedes appears to indicate once again that Ferrari has made great strides in closing their performance disadvantage to the scarlet cars from Maranello.
At the bottom end of the timesheet, McLaren was battling it out with Sauber, as predicted before the weekend. Both teams are suffering on the long straights due to their power units being down on power compared to the rest of the field.
|3||77||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG||1:33.707||+0.371s||26|
|4||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||1:33.879||+0.543s||25|
|5||19||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||1:34.773||+1.437s||23|
|6||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||1:34.946||+1.610s||20|
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||1:35.092||+1.756s||23|
|8||18||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||1:35.182||+1.846s||24|
|10||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:35.223||+1.887s||24|
|12||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:35.521||+2.185s||22|
|13||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1:35.626||+2.290s||20|
|14||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:35.680||+2.344s||22|
|15||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:35.804||+2.468s||23|
|16||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||1:35.811||+2.475s||24|
|17||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||1:35.912||+2.576s||17|
|18||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1:36.063||+2.727s||25|
|19||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Honda||1:36.221||+2.885s||21|
|20||36||Antonio Giovinazzi||Sauber Ferrari||1:36.705||+3.369s||24|