Felipe Massa has set the benchmark pace in a closely-fought final practice session for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
With three different teams occupying the top-three spots on the timesheets and with the eleven fastest drivers covered by less than a second on the stopwatch, it is guaranteed to be a hotly-contested qualifying session this afternoon.
The Ferrari driver narrowly edged out Kimi Räikkönen’s Lotus by just six-thousandths of a second for top honours, while the pair was shadowed by Mark Webber’s Red Bull entry, which was just over a tenth slower.
As is typically the case in the final one-hour session, the field concentrated on making final tweaks to their Sundat race set-ups before concentrating on qualifying-style runs in the second thirty-minute phase.
Local hero Fernando Alonso – who finished sixth-quickest and just 0.35 seconds off Massa’s pace – was the fastest driver during this sequence ahead of both Lotus’ of Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean, while Massa was fourth-fastest ahead of both Red Bulls.
The switch to the Medium compound tyres saw Ferrari continue to occupy top spot on the timesheets, although it was now Massa who assumed top spot, while Alonso was bumped down to sixth behind Grosjean and Sebastian Vettel, who hit traffic on his final flying run.
The Force India pairing of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil were again comfortably inside the top-ten in seventh and eighth respectively, with di Resta managing to avoid a repeat of the tyre failure that prematurely ended his Saturday afternoon practice session.
Lewis Hamilton and Jean-Éric Vergne who completed the top ten for Mercedes and Toro Rosso, respectively.
Once again, the McLaren pairing of Jenson Button and Sergio Pérez were off the pace, with the MP4-28 showing little signs of improvement despite the wealth of upgrades being evaluated on the car. Pérez, who was just fourteenth-fastest, had the greater troubles, suffering minor damage to his front wing and a power steering failure.
Williams and Sauber were also worryingly down the order and look the most likely to suffer an early bath in this afternoon’s qualifying session among the usual suspects from Caterham and Marussia.
2013 Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:
|1.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:21.901||13|
|2.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:21.907||+ 0.006||14|
|3.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:22.044||+ 0.143||17|
|4.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:22.069||+ 0.168||13|
|5.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:22.229||+ 0.328||17|
|6.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:22.254||+ 0.353||15|
|7.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:22.574||+ 0.673||11|
|8.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:22.729||+ 0.828||17|
|9.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:22.740||+ 0.839||24|
|10.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:22.759||+ 0.858||15|
|11.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:22.839||+ 0.938||26|
|12.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:23.151||+ 1.250||13|
|13.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:23.371||+ 1.470||21|
|14.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:23.373||+ 1.472||13|
|15.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:23.385||+ 1.484||17|
|16.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:23.388||+ 1.487||18|
|17.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:23.660||+ 1.759||16|
|18.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:23.767||+ 1.866||17|
|19.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:24.775||+ 2.874||18|
|20.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:24.793||+ 2.892||16|
|21.||Max Chilton||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:25.135||+ 3.234||17|
|22.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:25.250||+ 3.349||18|