Lewis Hamilton has continued his strong form at the Japanese Grand Prix by claiming the fastest lap in a shortened final practice session.
The Mercedes driver again showed blistering pace having topped both of yesterday’s practice sessions, waiting until his final run to edge Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for the top place.
In a session that was affected by passing showers, Hamilton spent the majority of the session at the foot of the time sheets after aborting his first flying lap before outbraking himself and venturing down the escape road at the final chicane on his second lap.
His third lap, however, was loose at times but fast enough to confirm his favouritism for qualifying this afternoon.
Hamilton’s lap came just before the session was called early when Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg sustained major damage to his car.
The German ran wide on the exit of Turn 3 and his car swapped ends. A failed attempts to correct the lose sent him into the wall with significant damage.
The incident brought out the red flag, three minutes before the session was scheduled to end and no further track running was held.
Vettel finished second, despite being faster than Hamilton in the first two sectors. He was one place ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who was held top spot for a large part of the session before being ousted by Hamilton and Vettel.
Max Verstappen was the leading Red Bull in fourth place, ahead of Mercedes’ second car of Valtteri Bottas and Australian Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, who completed just 10 laps during the session – the least of the top 15 in the session.
A late quick lap from Force India’s Esteban Ocon shot him to seventh place, just clear of his team-mate Sergio Perez, Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen.
Qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix will be held at 1600 AEST today.
Results: Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix
|4||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Renault||+0.705s||13|
|6||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Renault||+0.875s||10|
|7||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||+1.489s||12|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||+1.884s||12|
|10||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||+1.922s||13|
|11||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||+2.037s||14|
|12||16||Charles Leclerc||Sauber Ferrari||+2.161s||14|
|13||28||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso Honda||+2.431s||13|
|14||18||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||+2.602s||14|
|16||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||+2.843s||10|
|17||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Renault||+3.009s||14|
|18||35||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Mercedes||+3.032s||14|
|19||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Renault||+3.435s||13|
|20||10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso Honda||+3.506s||10|