Sebastian Vettel has staked his claim for yet another pole position this season after closing out the final practice session as the fastest driver ahead of this weekend’s German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.
With team-mate Mark Webber ending the session second-quickest, Red Bull Racing once again looks like the team to beat in this afternoon’s all-important qualifying session, unless the forecasted wet weather throws a cat among the pigeons…
On the timesheets, Vettel’s fastest lap – a 1:30.916 – was marginally quicker than Webber (who took his maiden F1 win here when the circus last visited the track in 2009), but the Australian was also held up on his fastest lap, and could well have ended the session quickest of all.
Fernando Alonso finished the session third-quickest to show that Ferrari could give the Red Bulls a run for their money this weekend. The Spaniard remained in the pits as the Red Bulls had a final tilt at top spot at the end of the session, which would indicate that he could be a dark horse for pole later today.
The McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished fourth- and fifth-fastest respectively, but were over half a second off the leading pace and won’t be a threat for the front row of the grid unless wet weather intervenes in qualifying.
The silver cars look under threat from the two Mercedes drivers and the sister Ferrari of Felipe Massa, who ran close to the McLarens’ times.
It was a generally incident-free session, unless you were a Lotus driver, that is! Heikki Kovalainen lost time with an hydraulics issue, while Karun Chandhok added some support to Jarno Trulli’s claims that the T128 is a beast to drive, with the Indian suffering a multitude of lock-ups and two separate spins as he struggled to tame his new mount.
2011 German Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault RB7||1:30.916||15|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 0.133||16|
|3.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 0.222||12|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 0.662||13|
|5.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 0.707||14|
|6.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP W02||+ 0.778||19|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 1.228||13|
|8.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 1.475||20|
|9.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP W02||+ 1.607||16|
|10.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 1.835||18|
|11.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault R31||+ 1.861||18|
|12.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 1.897||21|
|13.||Nick Heidfeld||Renault R31||+ 2.156||18|
|14.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 2.263||17|
|15.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 2.615||20|
|16.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 2.755||20|
|17.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 3.032||21|
|18.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 3.209||19|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus Renault T128||+ 4.469||13|
|20.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 5.808||21|
|21.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 5.888||23|
|22.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 5.978||23|
|23.||Karun Chandhok||Lotus Renault T128||+ 6.043||18|
|24.||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 6.638||22|
[Images via LAT and Formula1.com]