Prac Three: Alonso leads the way

Saturday 13-April-2013 05:05

A swap to the soft Pirellis once again played into Ferrari's hands as Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa claimed the 1-2 in final practice for the Chinese GP.

Although Mercedes led the way on the medium compounds, Ferrari came to the fore in the final ten minutes as the drivers swapped to the quicker soft tyres.

Alonso posted a 1:35.391 to beat Massa by 0.622s while Lewis Hamiilton was a further 0.052s off the pace.

Caterham got proceedings underway on Saturday morning with Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic momentarily topping the timesheets. However, as rivals came out, the Caterham duo plummeted with Sergio Perez setting the pace after the first 15 minutes. A 1:38.769 for the McLaren driver, who admitted after Friday's practice that his confidence in his MP4-28 is low due to the car's inconsistency.

Kimi Raikkonen was the next to lead the way before he was overhauled by 2012 Chinese GP winner Nico Rosberg. The German, though, soon lost out to his team-mate Lewis Hamilton who lowered the benchmark to a 1:37.042 while Sebastian Vettel put his Red Bull racer up into second place.

Halfway through the session four drivers had yet to set times, although all four were finally out on track: Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado. Webber went fourth on his first attempt, Alonso fifth and Massa, who had a moment at the final kerbs, was sixth quickest. Maldonado went tenth quickest.

There were a few slip ups on the still slightly dusty surface, however, everyone - including Perez - managed to avoid the barriers before swapping to the soft tyres for the final 15 minutes.

Rosberg was the first although his run came to a halt when he backed off, complaining that something is "broken with the springs." He headed back to the pits while his team-mate Hamilton extended his advantage at the front to a 1:36.065.

It was all-change, though, as the Ferraris strapped on the soft tyres with Massa going quickest by 0.05s only to lose out to Alonso as the Spaniard clocked a 1:35.391, putting him 0.622s up on Massa.

As others put in their soft tyres runs, Vettel improved to fourth place while Webber was fifth. The Red Bull duo were 0.8 and 1.0s off the pace. Adrian Sutil slotted his Force India into sixth place ahead of Raikkonen and Jenson Button.

1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:35.391
2 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:36.013 0.622
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.065 0.674
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:36.286 0.895
5 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:36.420 1.029
6 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:36.549 1.158
7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:36.605 1.214
8 Jenson Button McLaren 1:36.693 1.302
9 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:36.777 1.386
10 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:36.853 1.462
11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:37.072 1.681
12 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:37.205 1.814
13 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:37.300 1.909
14 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:37.349 1.958
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:37.457 2.066
16 Paul di Resta Force India 1:37.487 2.096
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:37.740 2.349
18 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:37.813 2.422
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:38.496 3.105
20 Charles Pic Caterham 1:38.821 3.430
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:39.627 4.236
22 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:39.652 4.261

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