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Ricciardo fastest in wet final practice

2014-04-19 07:42

ALL SMILES: Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo has set the fastest lap in the wet during the final free practice session on Saturday, ahead of the Chinese GP. Image: AFP

SHANGHAI, China - Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest lap time during a wet final practice session on Saturday for the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix.

With championship leader Nico Rosberg and Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton opting not to set any flying lap times in the miserable damp and cold conditions but instead perform pit stop practice and preserve tyres, there were some unfamiliar names near the top of the timings board.


Felipe Massa in the Williams, an impressive sixth fastest on Friday, continued to show great pace with second place in 1min54.492sec, and Romain Grosjean in the Lotus was third with a 1min54.514.

The rain meant Ricciardo's time of 1min53.958 on intermediate tyres was more than 15 seconds down on his best from Friday.

Again he outpaced his illustrious team mate and four-times World champion Sebastian Vettel, who suffered problems with his own Red Bull and sounded dejected over the team radio as he could only manage 1min56.233 for 11th.

Ricciardo's engineer reported back that it was an energy recovery system (ERS) fault and that they "would hope to fix it with software".

Persistent rain and a thermometer hovering around 13 degrees Celsius meant that most drivers and teams opted to run only a handful of laps to preserve their wet tyres for qualifying later in the day.

The teams are allowed only four sets of intermediate tyres and three sets of full wets for the entire weekend.

With a forecast of dry conditions for Sunday's race, the teams were mindful not to waste any more tyres than necessary ahead of the serious business of qualifying later in the afternoon.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso who had been fastest in first practice on Friday, also opted not to set any lap times during the final practice.

His team mate Kimi Raikkonen, who had been starved of laps Friday because of mechanical issues, did complete four laps and was fifth fastest in 1min55.062.

A fraction ahead of him in fourth was Force India's Nico Hulkenberg (1min55.032), who currently stands in third place in the drivers' World championship standings.

Romaine Grosjean's Lotus team mate Pastor Maldonado had endured a miserable weekend, spinning and then crashing heavily into a wall at the pits lane entrance in Friday's practice.

On Saturday things were looking up at last as Maldonado had completed 12 laps, the most of anyone in the field, in his rebuilt car and posted the sixth fastest time (1min55.228).

But his terrible luck continued when his garage detected an engine problem and ordered him to stop out on the track.

His engineers were then facing a race against time to repair the power unit with qualifying due to begin just two hours later.

Third free practice session on Saturday for the Chinese Grand Prix:

1. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing 1:53.958
2. Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams 1:54.492
3. Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus 1:54.514
4. Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India 1:55.032
5. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari 1:55.062
6. Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus 1:55.228
7. Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Toro Rosso 1:55.235
8. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams 1:55.381
9. Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes 1:55.673
10. Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India 1:56.019
11. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing 1:56.233
12. Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Toro Rosso 1:56.380
13. Adrian Sutil (GER) Sauber 1:56.760
14. Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia 1:56.841
15. Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber 1:57.468
16. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Caterham 1:57.812
17. Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia 1:57.976
18. Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Caterham 1:59.507
19. Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes (no time)
20. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) McLaren Mercedes (no time)
21. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Scuderia Ferrari (no time)
22. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes (no time)

First practice session results
Second practice session results

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