Nico Rosberg has gone fastest in the final practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix. He led Max Verstappen and Kimi Räikkönen for the top of the timesheet whilst his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, struggled once again and failed to complete a qualifying simulation.
Before the final ultra soft runs, Mercedes had a half a second advantage over the field, looking competitive for the race. But as soon as the last ten minutes began and everyone took to the track on the purple-walled ultra softs the top of the field tightened up.
Rosberg finished fastest with a 1:44.352 but Verstappen was only 0.059 seconds slower than the Mercedes driver. Räikkönen remained just over half a second off Rosberg in third, but the gap between the second Red Bull driver and him was just under 0.05 of a second. Sebastian Vettel had more difficulty with getting the prime balance on his Ferrari and could not get the car any higher than fifth. He was only 2 tenths up on Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who was followed across the line by Daniil Kvyat in seventh.
Hamilton finished the session down in eighth after having a troubled session that saw him unable to complete a qualifying simulation. His best lap was on the super softs, 1.2 seconds off his teammate with the fastest lap. He locked up three times at the same corner, going straight on into the runoff area, and ruining his relevant sets of tyres. He goes into qualifying with no real concept of how the tyres will work on a one-lap low fuel run.
The top ten was rounded up by Carlos Sainz Jr and Valtteri Bottas. The Toro Rosso drivers look strong around the street circuit and could definitely compete for a top-ten finish in qualifying.
Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso just missed out on finishing in the top ten as Bottas took tenth in the last few minutes of the session. It looks like it could be a tight fight for the bottom of the top ten – as usual – but if McLaren wants to be a reckoning force they will need to hope the reliability of their cars holds out for the remaining two sessions.
Pascal Wehrlein brought out the only and brief red flag in the session as he lost his car in the opening stages of the hour and crashed, backwards, into the tyre barrier. He heavily damaged his rear wing and also incurred damage to his floor and diffuser. The repairs saw him sit most of the session out as Manor could only get him out for the last ten minutes of final practice.