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Raikkonen hits the front for Ferrari in final Malaysian GP practice

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Kimi Raikkonen rose to the front of the pack in the final Formula 1 practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday morning, heading up a one-two finish for Ferrari.

Ferrari flipped the formbook on its head on Friday by easing clear of the field in FP2 despite chief title rival Mercedes being tipped to dominate proceedings, with the Silver Arrows finishing over a second off the pace.

Ferrari carried its good form through to Saturday as Raikkonen turned in a fastest lap time of 1:31.880, finishing one-tenth of a second clear of teammate Sebastian Vettel at the end of the session.

However, Vettel’s hopes of cutting the gap in the drivers’ championship were put in doubt when he slowed at the end of FP3, with Ferrari’s pit wall telling him to come back to the pits.

Red Bull and Mercedes looked evenly matched through FP3, with Daniel Ricciardo finishing third ahead of the Silver Arrows of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in P4 and P5.

Mercedes opted to split the aerodynamic setups on its cars to try and find out why it was so far off the pace, with Bottas going two-tenths of a second faster with the updated package.

Max Verstappen took sixth for Red Bull, finishing seven-tenths of a second back from Raikkonen, and the Dutchman was caught up in a bizarre incident with Renault’s Jolyon Palmer in the dying moments of the session.

On a hot lap, Palmer tried to pass a slow Verstappen on the inside of the final hairpin, only for the pair to make contact and the Renault driver to lose a chunk of his front wing.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon both finished in the top 10 for Force India, taking P7 and P9 respectively, with Felipe Massa splitting the pair for Williams. Stoffel Vandoorne completed the top half of the order for McLaren.

Qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 5am ET today.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.