Saturday morning proved there is no hope of stopping the Mercedes steamroller for their F1 rivals in Malaysia, with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton proving faster than their opponents to the tune of a second a lap.
A heavy rain shower hit Sepang late on Friday and scrubbed the track clean, meaning the drivers were heading into FP3 with a green circuit as an added hinderance to their preparations ahead of qualifying. That wasn’t the only problem for championship leaders McLaren, who spent most of the session in the garage after Magnussen suffered a repeat of his engine sensor woes from yesterday that also affected Button. The issue was traced to a software glitch deep in the computer system, but by then it was too late and the duo are heading into qualifying with no preparation completed.
Ferrari again showed as best of the rest with Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso proving competitive – relatively speaking – on both the hard and soft compounds, while Nico Hulkenberg pushed his Force India into the mix with the Red Bull cars. Ricciardo was initially the faster of the two Milton Keynes-produced stablemates, though Vettel looked more comfortable than he did in Melbourne on the softer tyre and was closer to the front when the morning ended. Lotus too had a more successful day, finally moving themselves off the bottom of the timing board and into the fight with Caterham, Marussia and Sauber – who again had problems on another tough day. Romain Grosjean was still unsatisfied with the ungainly E21 though, branding it ‘a disaster’ over the radio before returning to the pits.
Qualifying is at 08:00 GMT.
CLASSIFICATION – FP3 – 2014 Malaysian GP