Lewis Hamilton has completed his hat-track of P1s in practice for the Chinese Grand Prix by finishing as the fastest driver in FP3 on Saturday afternoon in Shanghai.
The defending Formula 1 world champion topped both FP1 and FP2 on Friday, and carried his form into the final practice session by posting a fastest lap of 1:37.615, giving him an advantage of two-tenths of a second over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the timesheets.
Conditions were dry and sunny once again for final practice in Shanghai, but McLaren’s session was quickly put under a cloud as Fernando Alonso’s car ground to a halt on his outlap at the beginning of the session.
An engine issue on his McLaren MP4-30 forced him to stop out on track, and the team will now be working to ensure he is able to take part in qualifying later today.
The Spaniard’s former team, Ferrari, had no such issues though. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen laid down an impressive pace on the medium compound tire once again during the first half of the session before going P3 and P4 respectively in the final qualifying simulations.
Red Bull’s revival in China continued in FP3 as Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat finished a comfortable fifth and sixth in the final session, albeit some six-tenths of a second behind the Ferrari cars ahead.
Carlos Sainz Jr. finished an impressive P7 for Toro Rosso as Valtteri Bottas struggled to eighth place for Williams at the flag. Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten.
The battle for pole position does appear to be between Hamilton and Rosberg once again, but in truth, it could be a one-sided battle. Whenever Rosberg has gone fastest in practice, Hamilton has managed to turn up the wick and find an extra few tenths where it matters.
Unless the German driver can turn his fortunes around, Hamilton looks poised to claim a fifth pole position in Shanghai and continue his 100% pole record in 2015.
You can watch qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 3a ET today.