The two drivers giving vain pursuit to Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One world championship, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, continued to top the timesheets at the Chinese Grand Prix, with the Finn again edging his Spanish rival for fastest lap.

Having swept the two Friday sessions, albeit by 0.006secs, Raikkonen was again on top as Saturday's proceedings got underway, but was again pushed hard by his McLaren rival, as he lapped just 0.026secs faster than Alonso, toppling the Spaniard from P1 in the latter stages of the 60-minute outing. It was not all good news for Raikkonen, however, as he was spotted crawling back to the pits in the final minute of the session, having failed to put in a late flying lap in the Ferrari.

While Raikkonen and Alonso took half a second off their Friday times as the Shanghai International Circuit continued to pick up grip, Hamilton improved both his time and his position, taking six-tenths from his Friday mark to move ahead of Felipe Massa into third spot. Massa, meanwhile, claimed fourth as Ferrari and McLaren continued to dominate.

Ralf Schumacher was fifth fastest, replacing Toyota team-mate Jarno Trulli as 'best of the rest' as the Italian sank down the order. Red Bull Racing took full advantage, confirming its potential from day one as David Coulthard vaulted himself up the order in the closing minutes to claim sixth ahead of the leading BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica. Their order was mirrored at the foot of the top ten, with Nick Heidfeld edging Mark Webber for ninth, the German happy to get some uninterrupted track time under his belt after a fraught Friday. Unsurprisingly, Heidfeld was among the busiest drivers in the session, his 18-lap total being surpassed by only a handful of rivals, although team-mate Kubica topped the mileage chart with 23 laps as the team sought valuable data.

Heikki Kovalainen claimed the remaining top ten slot for Renault but, as with Trulli, his team-mate was well down the order, Giancarlo Fisichella managing only 17th fastest time. It was a similar story at Williams, where Nico Rosberg took eleventh, but under-fire team-mate Alex Wurz managed only 19th, putting himself behind both Toro Rossos and the two works Hondas, as well as Anthony Davidson's Super Aguri. Tonio Liuzzi secured the best time of the minnow teams, pushing his STR02 into twelfth spot, but was backed up by rookie team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who posted the 16th best time, marginally slower than Davidson.

Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto again brought up the rear for Spyker, the German joining Takuma Sato in the 1min 38s while those directly ahead broke into the 37s.

 

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