Malaysian GP: Hamilton fastest in final free practice at Sepang

Lewis Hamilton put in a convincing performance to set the fastest time in the final free practice session ahead of the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix

Malaysian GP: Hamilton fastest in final free practice at Sepang

Mercedes driver Hamilton topped the timesheets at the end of the hour-long session at Sepang with a time of 1m34.434s, almost half a second faster than Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Halfway through proceedings, Hamilton was quickest on Pirelli's medium tyres with a 1m35.612s, seven tenths faster than team-mate Nico Rosberg on the same compound.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who had endured an unusually off-the-pace Friday, then went fastest by 0.151s from Hamilton, albeit on the soft rubber.

Three quarters of the way through the session, Rosberg went fastest with a lap of 1m35.293s on the soft compound.

But the winner of the last three grands prix was swiftly deposed by Hamilton by 0.8s on his qualifying simulation lap on softs, and although Rosberg managed a second hot lap on his own set of softs, he could only get to within 0.619s.

The championship leader was then demoted to third as Verstappen managed to split the Mercedes pair to close to within 0.445s of Hamilton.

Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were fourth and fifth quickest respectively, albeit seven tenths of a second off the pace, with Ricciardo down in sixth, just over a second adrift.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso, who will start at the back of the grid on Sunday after taking a 45-place grid penalty for various Honda power unit component changes, ended up last and almost seven seconds down.

Alonso has reverted to the power unit used in Belgium, with McLaren eager not to over exert it ahead of a qualifying session in which he will do only one lap to be within 107%.

The final corner, which was criticised by a number of drivers following Friday's sessions given its reprofiling as on off-camber corner, again proved problematic.

Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez was the first to suffer a major moment, spinning after losing the rear on entry - just falling short of the gravel - forcing Rosberg to back off on what would have been his best lap using the medium Pirellis.

With drivers forced to take an unusual line through the corner as they are unable to hug the apex, Vettel - who had described the turn as "mean" - was the next to spin after over committing slightly, wiping out a marker bollard in the process.

Force India's Sergio Perez also fell foul of Turn 15, suffering a big lock up that resulted in him ending the session down in 11th.

PRACTICE THREE TIMES:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes 1m34.434s - 16
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Red Bull/Renault 1m34.879s 0.445s 14
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes 1m35.053s 0.619s 16
4 Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 1m35.150s 0.716s 15
5 Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 1m35.170s 0.736s 14
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing Red Bull/Renault 1m35.461s 1.027s 22
7 Nico Hulkenberg Sahara Force India F1 Team Force India/Mercedes 1m35.776s 1.342s 16
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams Martini Racing Williams/Mercedes 1m35.902s 1.468s 17
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. Scuderia Toro Rosso Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m36.222s 1.788s 18
10 Felipe Massa Williams Martini Racing Williams/Mercedes 1m36.227s 1.793s 20
11 Sergio Perez Sahara Force India F1 Team Force India/Mercedes 1m36.259s 1.825s 15
12 Jenson Button McLaren Honda McLaren/Honda 1m36.363s 1.929s 11
13 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Haas/Ferrari 1m36.553s 2.119s 14
14 Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team Renault 1m36.604s 2.170s 20
15 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Haas/Ferrari 1m36.687s 2.253s 15
16 Kevin Magnussen Renault Sport F1 Team Renault 1m36.741s 2.307s 19
17 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m36.752s 2.318s 20
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber F1 Team Sauber/Ferrari 1m36.765s 2.331s 19
19 Felipe Nasr Sauber F1 Team Sauber/Ferrari 1m37.106s 2.672s 18
20 Esteban Ocon Manor Racing MRT Manor/Mercedes 1m37.961s 3.527s 17
21 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Racing MRT Manor/Mercedes 1m38.089s 3.655s 13
22 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda McLaren/Honda 1m41.199s 6.765s 15

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