A late spin failed to stop Lewis Hamilton from setting the fastest time in final practice ahead of Sunday’s inaugural Russian Grand Prix.
At the Sochi Autodrom, in the heart of the Olympic Park that was the setting for the Winter Games earlier this year, Hamilton was clear of Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg by 0.3seconds.
But on another flying lap minutes from the end after just setting his best time of one minute 38.726secs, Hamilton locked up heading into the penultimate turn.
With plenty of run-off area at that part of the circuit, Hamilton avoided any damage to his car and swiftly returned to the pits, bringing his session to an end.
None of his rivals, however, could match the 29-year-old Briton who has so far found himself at one with Formula One’s newest venue.
Rosberg, who conceded after Friday practice to taking a wrong turn with a creative set-up that kept him a second adrift of Hamilton, vaulted into second late on with a lap of 1:39.016secs.
That relegated Williams’ Valtteri Bottas to third, with the Finn 0.371secs adrift of Hamilton, and the only other driver to finish within a second of the championship leader.
After three successive victories, and eight overall for the season, Hamilton has a 10-point lead over Rosberg going into the final four races.
Whilst the title race is likely to go down to the wire and the final race in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes can seal the constructors’ championship on Sunday.
Nearest rivals Red Bull are 190 points adrift, and so far at this circuit have been off the pace, although after a tough day on Friday, Daniel Ricciardo at least improved to fourth quickest, 1.029secs adrift.
Less than a second covered Ricciardo down to 13th-placed Sergio Perez in his Force India such is the tight nature of the rest of the field.
Williams’ Felipe Massa was fifth on the timesheet, followed by home hero Daniil Kvyat in his Toro Rosso, with Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso seventh and eighth.
Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne was ninth, with outgoing four-times champion Sebastian Vettel down in 10th, 1.6secs down.
As for McLaren, after looking like strong podium contenders on Friday, Jenson Button was down in 11th, whilst team-mate Kevin Magnussen was 17th, albeit completing just four laps due to a mechanical failure.
The young Dane will serve a five-place grid penalty after qualifying due to a gearbox replacement.
The sole Marussia of Max Chilton, with the team opting to run one car this weekend as a mark of respect for the critically-injured Jules Bianchi, was 20th, six seconds down.
Pastor Maldonado brought up the rear without a time to his name due to his own technical woes with his Lotus that resulted in him completing only two installation laps.