Singapore GP: Advantage Rosberg as Hamilton falters

Nico Rosberg put Mercedes doubters to the sword in FP3, by showing that their 2015 blip was just that, as Lewis Hamilton again struggled and there was an unusual track invader…

Singapore GP: Advantage Rosberg as Hamilton falters
Nico Rosberg topped the session, but Max Verstappen was close behind. (Image Credit: Sutton Images)

Fight for Pole Position later on Saturday in Qualifying should be extremely close, that is after Nico Rosberg topped Third and final practice for the Singapore Grand Prix, by just 0.059 ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull by lapping Marina Bay in 1:44.352.

However, that wasn’t the headline from the session, as during an early red-flag period, a giant lizard was seen to ‘Stop, Look, and Listen’ on the exit of Turn 3, crossing the track after Verstappen, but before Felipe Massa’s Williams.

Behind the two fastest drivers, Kimi Raikkonen showed Ferrari could be a real threat with third, with Daniel Ricciardo splitting the Ferrari’s in fourth and Sebastian Vettel fifth.

Nico Hulkenberg was a strong sixth for Force India, ahead of a much needed and confidence brewing seventh for Danill Kvyat. In a disastrous session, Lewis Hamilton was just eighth and still hasn’t got in a representative time on the UltraSoft tyre.

Carlos Sainz Jr and Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top 10, in a busy session that saw many drivers slide early on due to a lack of grip and of course, the latest member to the Formula One track invaders club.

Wehrlein saves the Lizard

Setting the early pace was Pascal Wehrlein in his Manor, however with just a few minutes on the clock, he spun and damaged his rear wing, eventually limping home to the pits. As he did, a piece of it fell off and race control felt it necessary to red-flag the session to retrieve the piece of MRT05.

After the red-flags had gone in, there was only a couple of cars on track, and exiting Turn 3, they got a surprise. Verstappen was first to come across it and told his Red Bull team, “There’s a giant lizard on track!”, the response was “You’ve come face to face with Godzilla”. Here’s hoping the lizard brought his FOM pass.

We've had cats, dogs and humans, but now the hunble Lizard can be added to F1 track invaders list. (Image Credit: @F1 Twitter)
We've had cats, dogs and humans, but now the hunble Lizard can be added to F1 track invaders list. (Image Credit: @F1 Twitter)

After the bizarre incident, it was Raikkonen who led the field, with a 1:46.813, with the times still far off what was done yesterday, as the session was run in twilight conditions and not the night as was FP2.

So far this weekend, Mercedes have had their advantage on the harder compound as was shown when they blasted themselves to the top of the timing sheets on the Soft tyre, Rosberg leading Hamilton.

After a period of final data collection for the race on long runs, with about 20 minutes remaining it was time to take all the fuel out and put on the UltraSoft tyre.

Hamilton’s disaster

Throughout FP2, Lewis Hamilton struggled on the fastest UltraSoft tyre, continuously making mistakes on his flying laps. Thought that Saturday morning would be any different were soon dashed.

Turn 7, at the end of Raffles Boulevard, was the trouble hotspot for the World Champion, with two big lock-ups on his two sets of tyres left him heading into Qualifying on the back-foot, in the Brit’s most out of sorts weekend since Baku, nearly three months ago.

It was then left to Red Bull to chase down Rosberg’s 1:44.352 benchmark, and although Daniel Ricciardo fell short by 0.508, it was Verstappen who could be the biggest thorn in the German’s side, ending up just 0.059 down, with both Red Bull’s now running the upgraded Tag-Heuer (Renault) power unit.  

Singapore Grand Prix - Third Practice times
Position Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:44.352
2. Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.059
3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +0.508
4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +0.551
5. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +0.752
6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India +0.964
7. Danill Kvyat Toro Rosso +1.151
8. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +1.454
9. Carlos Sainz Je Toro Rosso +1.527
10. Valtteri Bottas Williams +1.595
11. Sergio Perez Force India +1.760
12. Fernando Alonso McLaren +1.812
13. Esteban Gutierrez Haas +1.964
14. Felipe Massa Williams +2.177
15. Kevin Magnussen Renault +2.764
16. Jenson Button McLaren +2.925
17. Felipe Nasr Sauber +2.941
18. Romain Grosjean Haas +3.059
19. Marcus Ericsson Sauber +3.604
20. Jolyon Palmer Renault +4.337
21. Pascal Wehrlein Manor +4.849
22. Esteban Ocon Manor +5.213