Red Bull will head into this afternoon’s qualifying session as clear favourites to take their ninth pole position of the season – let’s remind you, in ten rounds! – after Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber locked out the top of the third and final practice session timesheets.
The one key question will be: which Red Bull driver will take pole?
However it wasn’t all plain sailing, as Vettel had a scare after posting his fastest lap when his RB6’s revised front wing tried to detach itself from the car. The German was able to nurse his car back to pit lane, but the wing – after scraping along the tarmac along Hangar Straight – had run its final outing for the weekend.
Webber wound up just 0.034s slower than his team-mate, and will be extremely motivated to try and have a good run at pole position for this afternoon’s knockout sessions.
Fernando Alonso had headed the running order until Red Bull’s late surge on low tanks, and the Spaniard wound up third-quickest overall and it looks like he could pose as Red Bull’s only threat this weekend, as McLaren’s pace has seemingly deserted them this weekend.
The Woking squad’s mechanics spent much of the night removing the team’s iteration of the ‘blown diffuser’ exhaust system from the MP4-25, with rumours being that the redirected hot air gases were causing the car’s floor to warp. Coupled with an all-nighter for test driver Gary Paffet in the team’s simulator, the team’s Hurculean efforts were partially rewarded, with Hamilton able to close the gap to the front-running Red Bulls to just under six-tenths of a second. However, Jenson Button finished twelfth-quickest…
By contrast, Nico Rosberg showed more encouraging form for Mercedes GP – which has suffered from a lack of qualifying pace in the last two rounds – by finishing up fourth-quickest, with team-mate Michael Schumacher not far behind in eighth spot.
Completing the top ten was Pedro de la Rosa in the ever-improving Sauber and Rubens Barrichello for Williams.
Reliability issues played havoc for three drivers’ schedules in the last practice session before qualifying, which could potentially compromise their afternoon’s running. Of greatest concern was probably for Adrian Sutil, whose Force India suffered a gearbox problem.
At the lower end of the field, Jarno Trulli’s appalling lack of mileage continued when he was sidelines with yet another hydraulics issue in his Lotus, while Timo Glock managed just six laps in his Virgin racer due to a throttle problem.
2010 British GP Practice 3 Session Times:
[Original image via AUTOSPORT]