Red Bull continued to dominate at the Singapore Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen posting the fastest time in the third and final practice ahead of qualifying later Saturday.
Daniel Ricciardo, Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, had been quickest in Friday’s two practice runs with lap records each time. This time, Ricciardo was only sixth.
Verstappen clocked a leading time of 1 minute, 41.829 seconds, with Sebastian Vettel 0.07 seconds behind for Ferrari. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton trailed by 0.14 in third for Mercedes.
In a rare boost for struggling McLaren, Fernando Alonso was fourth quickest ahead of teammate Stoffel Vandoorne. On Friday, McLaren announced it will split with underperforming engine supplier Honda at the end of the season.
Ricciardo clipped a barrier late into the session and came back to the garage.
On Friday, the Australian driver set a new record in first practice, and then went even quicker in P2 with a time of 1 minute, 40.852 seconds on the 5 kilometer (3.1-mile) track _ about one second faster than Verstappen’s leading time on Saturday.
With 23 turns, the Marina Bay street circuit is one of the three hardest tracks to overtake on in Formula One along with Monaco and Hungary _ both won by Vettel this season. The nature of its layout reduces speed and favors Ferrari more than Mercedes.
Getting pole position later Saturday will likely be crucial to Vettel’s hopes of beating Hamilton on Sunday.
Hamilton leads Vettel by just three points in a hard-fought title scrap that looks set to go to the wire, with six races left after Singapore.
Vettel has won four races and secured six podiums overall in Singapore _ both records.
His impressive streak at the night race includes three straight wins from 2011-13 during his run of four straight F1 titles with former team Red Bull.
But Hamilton arrived here in better form, having won the last two races in Italy and Belgium on tracks more suited to Mercedes.