Daniel Ricciardo topped a dull wet final practice session in China as both Mercedes drivers failed to record a time in a bid to preserve tyres for qualifying.
Ricciardo set a 1:53.958 to go top in an hour of limited running across the field. Both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were limited to a handful of installation laps apiece, with Rosberg told by the team he also needed to look after his gearbox and brakes. Hamilton sat in his car for much of the session but did not make it out on track for the final half hour, though there seemed to be little concern in the Mercedes garage.
With the conditions worsening as the session progressed it became evidently clear most teams were opting to cut their running short with qualifying likely to be much the same. Ferrari seemed more than happy to stay in the garage, with Kimi Raikkonen only going P5 with a late run while Fernando Alonso stayed in the garage, with the team later confirming there were no problems for either car. Kevin Magnussen also failed to record a time after appearing to bail out of a wobbly flying lap.
While Ricciardo set the fastest time there was notable frustration for Sebastian Vettel, who struggled to 11th, but sounded slightly fraught on the radio when told his Red Bull is still struggling with KERS issues which the team will continue to work on before qualifying. Felipe Massa was half a second off Ricciardo's time in second, while Romain Grosjean recorded Lotus' best finish yet in a practice session by going third in the wet conditions, half a second ahead of Nico Hulkenberg.
Pastor Maldonado set about accumulating laps early in the session to make up for lost time from FP2, when he parked his car in the pit entrance wall. It seemed his Lotus was going well before he found himself clambering out of his car early again, albeit after losing power coming out of Turn 11 and parking up at the side of the road.
For the cars which did run, grip was an issue throughout the session is treacherous conditions which could spice up qualifying significantly. Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson both had moments coming through Turn 10, while the Turn 14 also proved problematic for almost everyone, which is likely to continue into qualifying with rain forecast to return.
#FerrariCHNGP The need of saving tyres and actual track conditions mean that there is little point in running now.— Scuderia Ferrari (@InsideFerrari) April 19, 2014