Hamilton fastest despite spin in final practice

18

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the final practice session ahead of qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix despite a spin on his second quick lap at the end of the session. Hamilton finished the hour 0.290s clear of his Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg, who met traffic on his first attempt on soft tyres. However, the newly-laid surface at the track is limiting tyre degradation, meaning several drivers went quicker on their second or third timed laps on the soft tyres. Valtteri Bottas did just that to go third fastest and 0.371s off Hamilton. The Williams driver set the fastest middle sector of all and is within striking distance of Rosberg should the Mercedes slip up in qualifying. Hamilton's spin came at Turn 17 on his second attempt at a flying lap, which saw his Mercedes pitched through 180 degrees under braking. The car stopped in the run-off area and was not damaged, but he returned to the pits immediately after and did not take any further part in the session. Daniel Ricciardo gave Red Bull some hope for a decent result this weekend after the team struggled throughout Friday practice. He was quicker than the second Williams of Felipe Massa, with Daniil Kvyat again impressing in front of his home crowd and finishing the session sixth for Toro Rosso. Kimi Raikkonen was the highest-placed Ferrari driver in seventh ahead of Fernando Alonso, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastian Vettel in tenth. After a promising Friday, Jenson Button could only manage the 11th fastest time on Saturday morning while McLaren team-mate Kevin Magnussen caused a red flag when his car ground to a halt with a gearbox problem after 20 minutes. The problem will see him drop five places on the grid when the gearbox is changed. Pastor Maldonado also experienced reliability issue when an ERS problem brought him back to the pits after his installation lap for a battery change. Max Chilton was limited to nine laps due to a drive shaft issue with his Marussia.