Malaysia F1 GP: FP3 Rosberg beats Hamilton

Following their woeful season debut in Melbourne, it appears the Honda technicians have allowed the wick to be turned up in their new power unit. Despite some of the hottest temperatures at an F1 circuit in recent memory, the McLaren Honda combo delivered 13 relatively trouble free laps for each of its drivers.

Jenson Button required an engine change before the session began, the suspected problem was his ICE and Turbo unit, though this may be just precautionary and not a failure.

McLaren Honda have indeed made a big step forward here in Malaysia, and given the fastest laps will be battling with Force India in qualifying, and we could see an MP4-30 make it into Q2.

Prior to this session, Mercedes had dominated FP1 & 2 with Ferrari the best of the rest.

Rosberg was to repeat the feat for the team and during his thirteen laps in the session and he always looked to be driving well within himself and the capabilities of the car.

However, the reigning world champion was not to have the best of preparations for qualifying as he consistently complained of braking issues. The team adjusted the torsion bars before Hamilton’s final run and Lewis’ immediately improved by nearly a full second per lap finishing second just under 0.2s behind Rosberg.

The Ferrari’s were again the next best team, with Raikkonen having the edge over his new teammate for most of the session, though he suffered a puncture early on and limped back to the pits. Vettel managed a late run to jump into fourth place on the timesheets, and just 0.021s behind Kimi.

11 minutes into the session and Pirelli tweeted: “We’re seeing some of the hottest temperatures on track that we can remember. Big test for the tyres.”

The lap times between the hard and medium compounds appears to average around 1-1.2s, though the degradation of both compounds is similar.

On the longer runs, the hard tyre times were falling away at around 0.2s a lap, whilst the softer medium compound held up well with lap time degradation at around just 0.3s per lap.

This means the medium tyre now looks set to be the favoured tyre for the majority of the race.

Bottas in the Williams had suffered somewhat with his back yesterday and his long run pace was 2 seconds a lap slower than teammate Massa. Today, the Finn looked better and both he and Felipe had a trouble free session finishing line astern behind the two Ferrari’s.

Red Bull have made massive improvements since FP3 in Australia, where Ricciardo languished down in fifteenth place, over three seconds off the pace of the Mercedes. Ricciardo was just under a second slower than session leader Nico Rosberg.

However, Russian new boy to the Big Bull’s had a tortuous session. After a huge lock up at turn fifteen that saw off a set of tyres, Kvyat told the team: “We’ve made a step back…. Is there a chance to come back on the set-up and give it another go?”

Kvyat finished over 2 seconds behind Nico Rosberg and was over a second slower than his team mate.

Max Verstappen had problems mid way through the session: “I’ve got a lot of vibrations on the tyres now… I have so much understeer in the car it’s unbelievable.”

Though both he and Carlos Sainz put in solid performances, which saw them ranked just behind Big Bull team leader Daniel Ricciardo.

The Sauber powered Ferrari is slipping back from the early form they showed in Australia. Ericsson managed to finish ahead of both the Mercedes powered Lotus and Force India teams, but Felipe Nasr had handling problems which saw the Swiss team’s mechanics examining the floor of his car.

The Manor team completed just 15 laps between both drivers and Robert Merhi was off in the gravel twice at turn 9, though he recovered unassisted to bring the car back to the pits.

This circuit has been a happy hunting ground for Lewis Hamilton, though his troubles in this session may mean he hasn’t had enough time on track to find a setup which will see off Nico Rosberg in the battle for pole.

# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:39.690 13
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.874 0.184 10
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:40.245 0.555 9
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:40.266 0.576 13
5 Felipe Massa Williams 1:40.391 0.701 14
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:40.406 0.716 15
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:40.590 0.900 19
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:40.601 0.911 19
9 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:40.989 1.299 18
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:41.200 1.510 19
11 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:41.206 1.516 16
12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:41.592 1.902 18
13 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:41.776 2.086 14
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:41.804 2.114 15
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:41.991 2.301 13
16 Sergio Perez Force India 1:42.100 2.410 14
17 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:42.117 2.427 18
18 Jenson Button McLaren 1:42.319 2.629 13
19 Roberto Merhi Manor 1:46.647 6.957 9
20 Will Stevens Manor 1:47.059 7.369 6

13 responses to “Malaysia F1 GP: FP3 Rosberg beats Hamilton

  1. Great session by Mercedes at the top. I think that Ferrari will be the leaders of the cars behind Mercedes. I hope Bottas’ s back is okay and that Williams have a good GP weekend. Red Bull have made progress which is good. A couple of things so far this weekend. …is Fernando already causing issues at McLaren without even running in a GP fo them this season? Will he slowly divide and bring down the team over the course of the season? How will the tires hold up in the heat? How will the wet tires perform should it rain? Will there be tire failures? How many engines will teams use by the end of the weekend? Will the McLarens and Manors finish the GP? Will there be any new rules in place before China? It should be an interesting GP with the elements, tires, and engine issues.

  2. Ridiculous behaviour by Rosberg in Q3 baulking Hamilton’s quick lap.
    Nearly cost Merc pole – and ended up costing him the front row.

    • Thank heavens they banned driver coaching.

      “Is the guy in front braking on the dry line?”

      “Sorry Nico, can’t help you with that”

      Translation….Drive the bloody car your damn self!!

      • Surely, coaching is only banned during a race. Practice and qualifying is not racing, which is the term in the rules.
        As we know, Rosberg needs more help than anyone else on the grid, which says a lot about a driver in his 9th season.

        • Nope, coaching is banned the moment the cars are on the track.

          Well he did say recently that he hasn’t peaked yet, I’m just wondering when that’s going to happen.

      • I’m not quite sure – but it certainly went right up to the edge of what might be acceptable from a competitor team’s driver.

        To do that to your teammate is just stupid, particularly in a wet track lottery, and when Ferrari were right there in the mix.

    • It’s the same as last year … for Rosberg to profit, the team result must suffer. I can’t see the team having as much patience for it this year, if Ferrari are closer.

      So Ferrari do well on the straights? Hmm, an increased flow rate in early acceleration would help with that, no? Let’s see if they’re as good on the straights in China, when the new TD comes into effect.

      • Well Nico got what he asked for at the press conference in Australia. There’s now a Ferrari in the mix, let’s see how he copes with that pressure.

    • I was looking forward to seeing how various posters on TJ13 would try and spin this to make Rosberg not look like a tool, and to somehow play him parking on the racing line during Hamilton’s flying lap as being no big deal. Messing that lap up in turn meant Hamilton encountered traffic on his final lap, so the parroted headline of “Rosberg loses pole position” (or however it was worded) is total BS. If Vettel had laced that flying lap together a little better I imagine that people would be picking up on his behaviour a lot more – as it was, that first lap from Hamilton saved Rosberg’s (as well as quite a few others’) blushes.

      That one session epitomized Rosberg – having to ask for help and driving in a fairly underhand way.

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