Sebastian Vettel has carried his Friday practice form into Saturday’s final practice session ahead for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The German led another Red Bull Racing 1-2 on the timesheets, beating teammate Mark Webber to top spot by 0.222 seconds.
The timing of the last practice session presented conditions which will bear little resemblance to the twilight qualifying session in a few hours time, making it difficult to get a true picture of who will potentially be able to challenge the Red Bulls over the three qualifying mini-sessions.
Nonetheless, the entire field still took up the opportunity to put in more laps than are usually seen in the one-hour hit-out, with most choosing to put some extra miles on Pirelli’s Medium compound tyre, the harder of the two dry-weather sets on offer.
Vettel was quickest of the pack during this phase of running, keeping Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg at bay before the grid switched to the Soft-compound tyres for some qualifying-style simulations.
The soft tyre running was shortened further courtesy of a spin for Jules Bianchi at Turn 2, which triggered a localised yellow flag and prevented some of the runners from putting in a truly representative flying lap.
Despite this, Vettel still continued his dominance with a fastest lap time of 1:41.349, while teammate Webber moved into second place on the timing screens, ahead of the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, while Rosberg fell to fourth-fastest.
Romain Grosjean bounced back from his Friday practice woes – where a brake disc shattered – to finish the session a solid fifth-fastest, ahead of Jenson Button’s McLaren and the impressive Saubers of Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez.
Kimi Räikkönen – who has been under the media spotlight this weekend like never before – was ninth-fastest, with Jean-Éric Vergne rounding out the top-ten in his Toro Rosso, showing much improved speed from what was witnessed on Friday.
The worrying sign was the lack of pace coming from the two Ferraris – as was the case in Friday’s first practice session – neither Fernando Alonso nor Felipe Massa able to crack the top ten. Alonso finished eleventh-fastest, while Massa was three spots further adrift.
Down at the bottom of the timing monitors, the Caterhams were comfortably quicker than the Marussia duo of Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi, with Giedo van der Garde beating teammate Charles Pic to the tune of 0.156 seconds on the stopwatch.
Qualifying gets underway at 5:00pm local time (GMT +5).
2013 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:41.349||19|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:41.571||+ 0.222||17|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:41.580||+ 0.231||18|
|4.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:41.721||+ 0.372||19|
|5.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:41.832||+ 0.483||19|
|6.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:41.956||+ 0.607||19|
|7.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:42.055||+ 0.706||19|
|8.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:42.282||+ 0.933||19|
|9.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:42.387||+ 1.038||18|
|10.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:42.457||+ 1.108||21|
|11.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:42.516||+ 1.167||15|
|12.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:42.681||+ 1.332||23|
|13.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:42.698||+ 1.349||19|
|14.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:42.702||+ 1.353||16|
|15.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:42.727||+ 1.378||18|
|16.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:42.798||+ 1.449||18|
|17.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:42.989||+ 1.640||22|
|18.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:43.142||+ 1.793||15|
|19.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:44.472||+ 3.123||20|
|20.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:44.728||+ 3.379||21|
|21.||Max Chilton||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:45.621||+ 4.272||20|
|22.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:47.506||+ 6.157||15|