Sebastian Vettel has thrown down the gauntlet to claim a record-breaking fifteenth pole position of the season after going fastest in the final free practice session at the Brazilian Grand Prix. But qualifying will be a close-run affair, with the German only just edging out team-mate Mark Webber and the two McLarens, who were all covered by less than two-tenths of a second.
After Webber led the way in yesterday’s first practice session and Lewis Hamilton went quickest in the afternoon, Vettel became the third different driver to finish on top in a practice session at São Paulo.
A host of different drivers took turns at the top of the timesheets as the fastest times continued to be posted; Vettel finally vaulted to the top with a time just 0.087 seconds quicker than Button, who finished five-hundredths faster than third-quickest Webber.
Lewis Hamilton ended the session fourth-fastest, while Fernando Alonso claimed fifth, despite an off at the Senna ‘S’.
Force India’s impressive Brazilian weekend continued and it ensured it has had both cars inside the top-ten at every session at Interlagos so far. Adrian Sutil ended the one-hour session sixth-quickest with team-mate Paul di Resta ninth; the pair sandwiched the works Mercedes’ of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
Felipe Massa was a disappointing tenth-fastest, although he took the mantle as the fastest Brazilian in the field, two spots better than Rubens Barrichello, who gave Williams a long overdue competitive showing. Their compatriot Bruno Senna was down in seventeenth, although less than 0.2 seconds slower than Barrichello, giving a clear indication of how tight the midfield battle is here.
Sébastien Buemi had a tough session and will have an uphill struggle in qualifying, after his Toro Rosso developed an hydraulics leak.
2011 Brazilian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault RB7||1:12.460||21|
|2.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 0.087||19|
|3.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 0.137||21|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 0.162||15|
|5.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 0.305||17|
|6.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 0.653||22|
|7.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP W02||+ 0.826||21|
|8.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP W02||+ 0.933||19|
|9.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 0.959||19|
|10.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 1.123||18|
|11.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault R31||+ 1.378||20|
|12.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 1.823||19|
|13.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 1.826||20|
|14.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 1.851||24|
|15.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 1.994||22|
|16.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 2.087||24|
|17.||Bruno Senna||Renault R31||+ 2.091||15|
|18.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus Renault T128||+ 3.383||24|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus Renault T128||+ 3.566||22|
|20.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 4.156||26|
|21.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 4.683||23|
|22.||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 4.836||23|
|23.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 5.524||23|
|24.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||no time||3|
[Image via LAT]