Sainz lost control and hit the wall at high speed approaching Turn 13, before burying his car beneath the barriers. Medical crews were quickly on the scene to extract the Spaniard, a process which took some time due to the position of the car. Sainz then, however, gave a thumbs-up to fans as he was stretchered to the medical centre. He is not thought to have sustained any serious injuries.
The FIA subsequently revealed that Sainz was conscious, talking and trying to remove his helmet when medics got to his car. He was then flown to hospital where further checks confirmed him to be unhurt.
Running in proper dry weather conditions for the first time this weekend, the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton sandwiched Valtteri Bottas’s Williams on the timesheet when the session was red flagged and then abandoned after Sainz’s crash.
This was a super-important session, the one real chance for teams to get their cars running consistently in dry conditions, when they would do their final chassis set-up and tyre evaluation work normally done on a Friday. The low track temperature of 22 degrees Celsius, however, was going to make it hard to generate decent tyre temperatures.
There was no prevarication when the track went green; this time everyone - bar Nico Rosberg and the Ferrari drivers - wanted to start running as soon as possible. Fittingly, local hero Daniil Kvyat led the cars out as noon struck, and he set the ball rolling with 1m 46.856s for Red Bull.
Straight away lap record holder Bottas got into a rhythm that took him to fastest time on 1m 40.884s after the first 20 minutes, and after losing 15 of those with an ERS deployment problem, team mate Felipe Massa joined him in second on m 40.972s before complaining of gear selection difficulties. The FW36s were 10 km/h faster than anything else through the straight-line speed traps, and that may have helped them to be a whopping 2.2s ahead of Lotus’s Romain Grosjean and Hamilton, all of them on the soft Pirelli tyres.
The Ferraris joined in after 15 minutes, Kimi Raikkonen opting straight away for supersofts, Sebastian Vettel for softs. Just before the halfway mark the German was up to third, then he was displaced by his team mate. The Finn was half a second faster, but still 1.6s down on the Williams duo.
Having finally cut his soft-tyre best to 1m 40.617s, on the supersofts Bottas reduced that to 1m 40.275s, but Felipe Nasr’s 1m 41.229s showed the true value of the red-banded rubber as he jumped his Sauber up to a temporary third.
On similar tyres, Rosberg re-established the baseline with 1m 38.941s after 30 minutes, as Bottas’s 1m 39.287s left him second. Then, as Hamilton was running wide after locking the right front on his first supersoft lap, Rosberg cut down to 1m 38.561s. Hamilton’s first proper lap was 1m 39.363s, lifting him from 15th to third, 0.802s off his team mate.
Force India’s Sergio Perez, Massa, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, McLaren’s Jenson Button, Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Nasr completed the top 10.