Prac Three: Vettel hits the front

Saturday 23-March-2013 06:03

Sebastian Vettel put in a late charge on the medium Pirelli to beat Lewis Hamilton to the top spot by 0.133s in final practice.

The session got underway on a dry circuit with the track temperature a sweltering 42'C! Mark Webber was the first to post a lap time, a sluggish 1:44.486 for the Red Bull race who was easily pipped by Giedo van der Gard and then Charles Pic, who had the benchmark time down to a 1:41 by the end of the first ten minutes.

Australian GP winner Kimi Raikkonen joined the fray, hitting the front before he was pipped by Nico Rosberg and then Adrian Sutil. There were a brief exchange between the two German drivers for the top spot as Force India continued to impress. However, that came to an end when Lewis Hamilton hit the front, 0.38s up on his team-mate.

There were a few slips and slides from the drivers with Romain Grosjean flat-spotting his left front tyre as he locked up and slid off the track. Webber had a tank-slapper that almost caught out a Force India, Vettel drifted off the track as he put in his 12 consecutive lap.

Halfway through the session - and using the hard tyres - the top three were Hamilton, Sutil and Raikkonen. They were separated by 0.074s.

Rosberg was the first of the big guns to swap to the medium tyres and immediately went quickest with a 1:36.94, which was 0.578s quicker than his team-mate's best on the hard compound. Hamilton soon joined his team-mate on the mediums and went 0.381s quicker than Rosberg. It was a Merc 1-2 heading in the final 20 minutes while Jenson Button was third - on the hard tyres - 0.953s down his former team-mate.

Webber, who had been concentrating on race pace, made the switch to the medium tyres and upset the Mercedes party as he went second, 0.045s down on Hamilton. With more drivers swapping to the mediums, Sutil put his Force India up into secodn place while Button went fourth ahead of Rosberg.

With all the drivers out on track for the final minutes Sebastian Vettel hit the front with a 1:36.435. Romain Grosjean had been on course to beat him but was hindered by a Caterham on an outlap. As such Vettel ended quickest of all, 0.133s up on Hamilton with Sutil third, 0.153s down.

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:36.435 20 laps
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.568 +0.133 17 laps
3 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:36.588 +0.153 19 laps
4 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:36.613 +0.178 20 laps
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:36.806 +0.371 19 laps
6 Paul di Resta Force India 1:36.807 +0.372 18 laps
7 Jenson Button McLaren 1:36.822 +0.387 16 laps
8 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:36.946 +0.511 14 laps
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:36.949 +0.514 25 laps
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:37.302 +0.867 14 laps
11 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:37.359 +0.924 11 laps
12 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:37.538 +1.103 12 laps
13 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:37.685 +1.250 23 laps
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:37.690 +1.255 14 laps
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:37.936 +1.501 16 laps
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:38.294 +1.859 17 laps
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:38.376 +1.941 16 laps
18 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:38.425 +1.990 15 laps
19 Charles Pic Caterham 1:38.995 +2.560 18 laps
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:39.717 +3.282 21 laps
21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:40.209 +3.774 18 laps
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1:40.495 +4.060 18 laps

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