Sebastian Vettel set the benchmark in the final practice session before this afternoon’s Turkish Grand Prix qualifying session, but not without a little drama en route…
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton looked set to make it a surprise three peat of the practice sessions after the team headed both sessions yesterday – despite a wild Turn 8 spin during the session – helped by both Red Bulls making mistakes during their last runs at a fast time.
Despite exploring the available grip in the Turn 8 run-off on his first flying lap in his final run, Vettel (pictured left) held it together on his last flying lap with a time of 1:27.086, nearly 0.3 seconds quicker than the rest of the field.
Both Red Bull drivers were quickest of all in the lap’s middle sector, a sector that focuses heavily on medium- and high-speed corners, including the mighty, quadruple-apex Turn 8.
Shortly after Vettel’s quick lap, Nico Rosberg vaulted his Mercedes GP into second place, bumping Hamilton down to third on the timesheets.
Mark Webber finished fourth-quickest overall, but not after another reliability concern when his Red Bull developed a throttle problem on his initial out-lap. He returned to the pits and rejoined just under 15 minutes later with the problem sorted. But his last attempt at a hot lap at the end of the session was ruined when he too added to the skid mark collection in the Turn 8 run-off with his own lurid spin, somehow keeping it off the walls.
Lewis Hamilton, as we mentioned, also joined the list of Turn 8 spinners, running wide halfway through the corner (pictured) and his McLaren snapping violently sideways, which he held until somehow managing to find the sole piece of gravel at that corner, where he promptly beached himself. Rescued by the safety trucks, he was able to rejoin the circuit and limp back to the pits, but his rear Bridgestone tyres from that set were shot down to the canvas.
Despite our predictions that the shortcomings of the Renault R30 would prove too much of a handicap for Robert Kubica this weekend – not forgetting his outstanding performance in Monaco a fortnight ago – the Pole has performed surprisingly well and finished fifth-quickest overall. A great confidence booster to his team-mate Vitaly Petrov will be a top-ten result for the Russian, and the F1 rookie has run comparably to his more established team-mate’s pace all weekend. Furthermore, he’s also managed to keep it out of the barriers this weekend, which very much breaks the pattern of previous race weekends.
The most frustrating incident of the session was no doubt felt in Adrian Sutil’s garage, where his Force India was wheeled into the garage with an hydraulics leak after completing a single installation lap, and it could not be repaired within the duration of the 60-minute session.
2010 Turkish Grand Prix Practice 3 Session Times: