Thunder, lightning and rain hit the Shanghai International Circuit to leave rivers across the track, where Sebastian Vettel topped the final practice session.
In what was more than likely the wettest session of the year so far, Vettel topped the time sheet for the final pre-qualifying session after coming out on the intermediate tyres. Raikkonen had held the lead in the fellow Ferrari, while Mercedes set no times with either driver to leave them down the order.
When the final practice session at the Chinese Grand Prix engaged, no power units engaged in the garages as the teams sat watching the rain fall in the pit lane. Rain that had been falling for a while, while the session approached as thunder, lightning and heavy rain soaked the circuit.
Fortunately, after 15-minutes of FP3, the rain began to ease and cars began to trickle out of their dry surroundings. No further rain was also expected as the radars showed a growing clear patch.
For the fans dotted around the track, the noises of falling rain and helicopters hovering were interrupted by Valtteri Bottas as the Finn crept out for his first exploratory lap. Felipe Massa soon followed his Williams counterpart however both gingerly returned to the pits.
But with the silence broken, more and more began to take to the track to test the waters. With McLaren and Renault sending their drivers out, before ex-Renault driver Romain Grosjean lost control at turn 10 to become the first spinner of the day.
Other firsts saw Kimi Raikkonen open the times with a 2:00.812. Just under 24-seconds slower than his pace setting FP2 flyer yesterday afternoon. He was soon followed by Massa on the timesheet, but it was the Red Bull of Kvyat setting the trend for moving onto the intermediate tyres.
Despite not completing his timed lap, Kvyat was bettering Raikkonen’s sectors before pitting and set the tone for the next drivers leaving the pits. Although Sainz had moved a second clear of Raikkonen while still on the wets.
Yet when Vettel moved out of the pits on the green walled intermediate tyres, he opened a two and a half second advantage over the field. Highlighting the improvements the track was harnessing.
Improvements Jolyon Palmer was not able to explore on his run as he suffered a rear-right puncture. The Renault team, along with Williams, had already suffered a puncture this weekend when Magnussen’s suspension failed on Friday. Williams on the other hand found the wheel hub itself was the cause of Massa’s punctures.
|15||Button||No time set|
|16||Alonso||No time set|
|17||Grosjean||No time set|
|18||Kvyat||No time set|
|19||Rosberg||No time set|
|20||Ricciardo||No time set|
|21||Hamilton||No time set|
|22||Ericsson||No time set|