"We just didn't know if we were going to fix the issues or not".
"In the dry we had quite a big gap to Ferrari", said Ricciardo. Ferrari are strong, Mercedes are a bit odd for now but I'm sure they'll get quicker tomorrow so we need to improve. "Somehow we turned it around".
Williams had a hard session as both Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were knocked out in Q2, despite having shown signs of being able to fight inside the top 10 earlier in the session, finishing 11th and 13th. Hamilton could manage only a distant sixth, a full second and a half back and was clearly struggling for grip - losing the rear and heading across the gravel though turn seven. "I think we are going to run it in Japan, all the data says it is good".
"The lap time is reality, the stopwatch always tells the truth".
A rapid effort through the first two sectors put Raikkonen in a good position, only to make an error at the final corner and lock up, leaving him 0.045 seconds short of Hamilton and left to settle for P2.
Raikkonen turns 38 later this month, but the 2007 Formula One champion has been showing admirable form recently.
"It's painful when you get that close", said Raikkonen. "Tomorrow is a long race and it will be tough for tires".
"I'm happy to be in third, I was struggling a lot with balance in P3", Verstappen Jr. said. "Both packages had different underlying setups, so we felt it would be the safer way to not change the vehicle too much and leave Valtteri and Lewis' cars just about in the same place for qualifying".
"I'm not too fussed about the amount of points lost".
Vettel concluded his run with engine trouble however, an issue which will warrant further investigations before this afternoon's crucial grid-defining. Engineers changed the internal combustion engine as a precautionary measure after detecting an electronic malfunction on his auto.
Vettel went quickest on Friday with an unofficial lap record time of 1:31.261.
Kimi "The Iceman" Raikkonen posted the fastest lap time during Free Practice 3 on a hot afternoon in Malaysia.
The replacement power unit was made up of a new engine, new MGU-H as well as a previously used turbocharger - a new turbocharger would have taken Vettel over his quota for the season and resulted in a ten-place grid penalty. "We will come back". "Anything can happen - you saw that in Singapore two weeks ago how everything can change".
It handed Hamilton the championship initiative, extending his lead to 28 points.
Another major moment in the title race?
"We just have to maximize every opportunity we get", Hamilton said, offering some sympathy to Vettel. "It's very unfortunate for him".
Vettel could be forgiven for hoping for a similar ending on Sunday.