Sebastian Vettel has thrown his and Red Bull’s hat into the ring as a potential race-winner, posting his session-leading fastest time at the end of the final practice session before qualifying for the European Grand Prix.
The German’s fastest time – a 1:38.052 – was set on a low-fuel soft-tyre shod run, where the ‘F-duct’ equipped RB6 rocketed around the Valencia circuit to snatch top slot from Robert Kubica, with the Renault driver looking very rapid in his heavily modified car.
The final ten minutes of the session were manic, as many drivers ran on fumes and soft tyres to simulate qualifying runs, ahead of one of the most crucial 60-minute knock-out sessions of the championship season.
With there never having been a passing move worthy of the name at Valencia, a good qualifying result will be the first step in having a possible shot at race victory for tomorrow’s race.
To see the top eighteen runners covered by just over 1.6 seconds will give some indication that we could see a few surprises in this afternoon’s qualifying session, and there could be a few high-profile casualties not making it into the top-ten shoot-out for pole position.
Indeed, the timing sheets for this session mirror what has turned out to be a surprisingly competitive and closely fought weekend so far.
For instance, both McLarens barely scraped into the top-ten, and Michael Schumacher was a lowly 15th overall.
Those who managed to weave together a quick lap included the likes of Rubens Barrichello, who vaulted to sixth on the timing boards with his last-gasp effort.
2010 European GP Practice 3 Session Times:
[Original image via The Cahier Archive]