Robert Kubica has continued his front-running pace during the Korean Grand Prix weekend – and thrown himself into the mix as a potential spoiler in the five-way FP3 - Robert Kubica championship fight – by topping the final practice session timesheets before this afternoon’s all-important qualifying session.

The Pole fractionally edged out Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber, with the top-four runners separated by less than one-tenth of a second as the session closed.

Overnight improvements to the circuit had perhaps gone some way to alleviate drivers’ concerns over track safety, but the 24-car field was still presented with an extremely slippery track surface ahead of the 60-minute practice session.

The top drivers held off any meaningful running and used the midfield runners – such as the Toro Rosso and Force India drivers – effectively as track sweepers to create a clean racing line along the dusty 5-kilometre circuit.

Not surprisingly, top honours in the first half-hour were disputed between the drivers in this quartet, until the big guns emerged in the final 30 minutes to post quicker times.

First to do so was Fernando Alonso, who posted a 1:40.795 in his Ferrari shod with hard tyres, until a six-lap run from Jenson Button saw the Spaniard eased into second place by just one-thousandth of a second.

Alonso responded to go faster, and then Lewis Hamilton almost immediately bettered it, with a significant improvement in lap time despite a wild off-track moment.

The final ten minutes saw everyone attempt a soft-tyre run and a true low-fuel qualifying simulation.

The traffic on the circuit was intense, and it wasn’t surprising to see a bit of fist-waving from some members of the field – with Fernando Alonso predictably being among the angry drivers – as they were held up by slower cars.

At the end of the session, Robert Kubica had posted the best lap time, just marginally quicker than the rest, while Sebastian Vettel was mired in 16th as he ran into problems in the closing minutes of play.


2010 Korean GP Practice 3 Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Robert Kubica POL Renault 1:37.354 15
2. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes + 0.048 16
3. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari + 0.072 15
4. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Renault + 0.087 13
5. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP + 0.275 12
6. Felipe Massa BRA Ferrari + 0.601 16
7. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes + 1.065 15
8. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Williams Cosworth + 1.147 17
9. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP + 1.276 12
10. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes + 1.278 18
11. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault + 1.314 14
12. Rubens Barrichello BRA Williams Cosworth + 1.379 16
13. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari + 1.704 21
14. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari + 1.791 16
15. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari + 1.805 21
16. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault + 2.426 9
17. Nick Heidfeld DEU Sauber Ferrari + 2.935 17
18. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA Force India Mercedes + 4.237 15
19. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Cosworth + 4.269 15
20. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth + 4.499 17
21. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus Cosworth + 4.741 19
22. Lucas di Grassi BRA Virgin Racing Cosworth + 5.757 19
23. Bruno Senna BRA HRT Cosworth + 6.063 19
24. Sakon Yamamoto JPN HRT Cosworth + 6.526 20

[Original image via LAT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.