Published On: Sat, Apr 14th, 2018

Formula 1: Vettel tops final practice as Red Bull hits trouble

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Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time in final practice for Formula 1’s Chinese Grand Prix as Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo suffered a spectacular Renault engine failure.

Vettel headed a one-two for Ferrari after jumping team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in the final third of the session, but his former F1 team will head into qualifying with serious concerns.

Ricciardo pulled up just after the halfway mark in the one-hour session, exiting the penultimate corner with his Red Bull belching bursts of flame and plumes of smoke.

A virtual safety car was deployed as the marshals dealt with Ricciardo’s latest Renault-induced disappointment, which comes less than a week after he retired from the Bahrain Grand Prix with an energy store failure.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports that “disappointing is probably an understatement” after the latest problem on only the third weekend of the season.

“I think we’ve got a suspected turbo failure,” he said. “That is what the analysis is at the moment. Whether its damaged the combustion engine only time will tell.”

Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen ended up fourth-fastest, splitting the two Mercedes, but also aired concerns to his team over the radio.

He declared “every time I push to the limiter I lose speed” and compared it to his feeling in Azerbaijan last year, when he eventually retired with an engine failure.

Heavy rain after Friday practice, which continued overnight, and a cold and overcast morning made track conditions poor at the start of the session, although there was no delay in cars hitting the track.

Raikkonen was first to set a lap time and Nico Hulkenberg briefly held top spot for Renault before speeds rapidly increased and Ferrari established itself at the head of the leaderboard.

The two Ferrari drivers both had spells on top before the halfway point of the one-hour session, with Vettel holding the advantage at that point on a 1m33.689s.

Raikkonen then surpassed Lewis Hamilton’s Friday benchmark on a 1m33.469s, before Vettel posted a 1m33.018s with just over 15 minutes to go. Hamilton had a messy session, twice running onto the wet astroturf on the exit of the Turn 9 and 10 double left-hander.

His second trip wide was more dramatic, running all four wheels off-track on the exit of Turn 10 and spinning wildly before coming to a rest facing the wrong way on the edge of the circuit.

Verstappen then went fourth, despite his engine concerns, just behind the lead Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, while Kevin Magnussen took advantage of the absent Ricciardo being shuffled back to 14th to take sixth for Haas.

Magnussen’s team-mate Romain Grosjean propped up the timesheets after stopping mid-session with fiery rear brakes.

The Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz Jr’s Renault and Sergey Sirotkin’s Williams completed the top 10.

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m33.018s 14
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m33.469s 0.451s 21
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m33.761s 0.743s 16
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m33.969s 0.951s 14
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.057s 1.039s 14
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m34.329s 1.311s 25
7 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m34.445s 1.427s 14
8 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m34.456s 1.438s 16
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m34.582s 1.564s 20
10 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m34.741s 1.723s 13
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m34.841s 1.823s 16
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m34.851s 1.833s 13
13 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m34.977s 1.959s 16
14 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m34.991s 1.973s 20
15 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m35.061s 2.043s 4
16 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m35.079s 2.061s 16
17 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m35.375s 2.357s 16
18 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m35.497s 2.479s 14
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m35.679s 2.661s 13
20 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m35.756s 2.738s 6



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