Robert Kubica went quickest overall Robert Kubica has led the field in a rain-hit third and final practice session at the Brazilian Grand Prix, ahead of this afternoon’s all-important qualifying session.

The Pole posted his quickest tour of a damp circuit on his final run to go three-tenths quicker than Sebastian Vettel.

The 60-minute session was held on a track soaked by overnight and morning rain, and all drivers who started the session did so on the extreme wet tyre. Set-up running would be crucial for this session, as – with the weather forecasting a dry race tomorrow but more rain this afternoon – drivers would want to find the ideal compromise in their set-up for the rest of the weekend.

Similarly, with such a limited allocation of wet tyres for a Grand Prix weekend, some drivers were reluctant to run too much mileage in this session in order to save their rubber for qualifying.

And so we saw a marked difference in the number of laps run by certain drivers, from which you could certainly infer who was comfortable, and who wasn’t. The Ferrari pairing and Mark Webber ran less than ten laps.

The Toro Rossos typically complete the most practice mileage in every practice session, and a sure-footed Sébastien Buemi posted a pleasing seventh-quickest on the timing screens by the end of the session after 26 tours. The only front-running driver to run up a significantly higher amount of laps was Jenson Button, which again indicates that the defending champion is struggling to find a workable set-up this weekend.

But with the circuit beginning to dry over the course of the session, Nico Hülkenberg was the first to gamble on a switch to intermediate tyres, and posted a 1:20.5 lap-time, Button seems all at sea with his car set-upin comparison to his team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who posted a 1:22 lap-time on wet tyres.

This prompted the entire field to switch to intermediate tyres, and the Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa promptly moved up the top of the order, ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren.

Sebastian Vettel then went out on track and went two-tenths faster than the Ferraris.

The activity then died down in the final half-hour, that was until the closing minutes of the session when many drivers opted to go for a low-fuel qualifying simulation. During this time, Kubica went quicker than Vettel’s fastest time to head the order, while Hamilton also improved his best time to leapfrog the Ferraris and finish just three-hundredths slower than Vettel.

This pushed Massa and Alonso down to fourth and fifth, while Vitaly Petrov again showed his great touch on greasy track conditions with the sixth-quickest time. The top-ten was completed by Buemi, Nico Rosberg, Button and Barrichello.

Webber’s lack of laps – with his best set rather early and when the track was wetter – saw him slip down the order to eleventh overall.

Jarno Trulli was quickest of the rookie team drivers again, completing a confidence-boosting sweep at Sao Paulo as the outfits head into qualifying.

And with the rain forecast to stay around until the end of the day, he’ll certainly be hoping for some of the more established runners to slip up so he can take a surprise berth into Q2.

 

2010 Brazilian GP Practice 3 Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Robert Kubica POL Renault 1:19.191 16
2. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault + 0.309 16
3. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes + 0.345 18
4. Felipe Massa BRA Ferrari + 0.544 9
5. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari + 0.600 9
6. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault + 0.696 22
7. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari + 0.818 24
8. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP + 0.865 13
9. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes + 0.973 24
10. Rubens Barrichello BRA Williams Cosworth + 1.129 13
11. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Renault + 1.146 6
12. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP + 1.230 18
13. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari + 1.261 21
14. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Williams Cosworth + 1.344 12
15. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari + 1.350 26
16. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA Force India Mercedes + 1.355 19
17. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes + 1.422 19
18. Nick Heidfeld DEU Sauber Ferrari + 1.794 25
19. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Cosworth + 3.135 17
20. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth + 3.258 26
21. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus Cosworth + 3.683 20
22. Lucas di Grassi BRA Virgin Racing Cosworth + 4.003 21
23. Bruno Senna BRA HRT Cosworth + 4.167 20
24. Christian Klien AUT HRT Cosworth + 4.459 19

[Original images via GP Update]

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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.
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