Chinese GP: Sebastian Vettel on top in final practice as Ferraris outshine Mercedes

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel, winner last time out in Australia, was untouchable in final practice
Chinese Grand Prix on the BBC
Dates: 7-9 Apr Venue: Shanghai International Circuit
Coverage: Qualifying on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; race on BBC Radio 5 live. Live text commentary, leaderboard and imagery on BBC Sport website and app.

Sebastian Vettel led a Ferrari one-two in final practice at the Chinese Grand Prix as Mercedes appeared to struggle to keep up.

Vettel and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen were separated by just 0.053 seconds, with Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas in third, 0.371secs adrift.

Lewis Hamilton was fourth, 0.172secs behind his Mercedes team-mate, but made a mistake on his fastest lap.

Hamilton ran wide at the hairpin, losing a few tenths of a second.

However, Hamilton was also 0.3secs slower than Vettel in the middle sector of the lap, where most of the demanding corners on the Shanghai International Circuit are situated.

Williams driver Felipe Massa was fifth, a second behind Hamilton, just ahead of the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. The Red Bulls were 1.6secs off the pace.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas
Bottas lost the fragile-looking 'coat hanger' wing during final practice

Jolyon Palmer was an encouraging ninth fastest for Renault, two places clear of his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.

It was a dispiriting session for McLaren-Honda, with two-time champion Fernando Alonso only 17th fastest as the team battle with the poor performance, reliability and fuel consumption of the Honda engine.

There was no repeat of the damp weather on Friday that had prevented any meaningful running because the medical helicopter could not operate.

The session took place in dry weather and almost-sunshine in perpetually smog-grey Shanghai.

However, further rain is predicted overnight ahead of the race on Sunday.

Even if it remains damp and cloudy at the time of the race, governing body the FIA has taken action to avoid the problems of Friday, when three hours of practice sessions were reduced to only about 15 minutes of running.

If the medical helicopter cannot fly, organisers have arranged for a police escort so, in the event of a driver being hospitalised, he can be transported quickly by road to the main hospital which is more than 30km away.

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