Istanbul: Lewis Hamilton skidded off and shredded his McLaren`s tyres in a final Turkish Grand Prix practice session led by Sebastian Vettel`s revived Red Bull on Saturday.
Hamilton had to be pushed out of the gravel at the tricky turn eight and nursed his car back to the pits with flat rear tyres, the front ones almost worn through and the tread flapping around.
Despite that the 2008 world champion returned to top the timesheets until Vettel banged in a quick lap of 1:27.086 on an overcast morning at an Istanbul Park circuit with another pitifully small crowd in attendance.
The 22-year-old German is using a different chassis, dubbed `Randy Mandy`, after complaining about the one used in the previous six races.
Germany`s Nico Rosberg was second fastest for Mercedes, 0.273 slower, with Hamilton third.
Red Bull`s Australian Mark Webber, the championship leader ahead of Vettel on race wins and gunning for his third pole in a row in later qualifying, was fourth fastest after a difficult session.
His car slowed to a crawl early on after suffering a problem with the throttle that was cleared up once he had made it back to the pits. He also had a big spin at turn eight, without damage.
Red Bull had experimented on Friday with the "F-duct" system pioneered by McLaren to stall the rear wing and reduce drag on the straights but team boss Christian Horner said the championship leaders would not use it in the race.
"We know we have a good car but we do not want to compromise the car by rushing through new technology," he told the BBC before the start of the session.
McLaren`s world champion Jenson Button was eighth fastest.
Germany`s Adrian Sutil was unable to clock a timed lap in his Force India due to hydraulic problems.