Sebastian Vettel has cast himself as a favourite to take pole position in qualifying, with the German posting the fastest lap time in the third and final practice session for this Vettel was again fastest in the final practice sessionweekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

With temperatures considerably hotter than yesterday, drivers battled the energy-sapping 43-degree heat and the resultant tyre degradation this gave as they hustled their way around the long Yas Marina circuit to prepare for this evening’s all-important qualifying session.

The lap times only improved on the best set in yesterday’s practice sessions when the drivers switched to low-fuel, soft-tyre runs late in the session to simulate some qualifying hot laps.

Crucially for Vettel, he was quickest in the session during this period and the preceding high-fuel, hard-tyre stints, which bodes well for qualifying later today.

Team-mate Mark Webber was never more than a few tenths behind, and a late hot lap improved him to just over 0.1 seconds slower than the German, who has all but hinted that he would play a supporting role to Webber if his own championship prospects were looking dimmer than the Australian’s.

The McLaren pair of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button has generally looked to be the second-quickest all weekend, although a late effort from Fernando Alonso saw the Ferrari driver split the duo, who rounded out the top five positions on the timing screens.

Vitaly Petrov again impressed as the sixth-quickest driver in the session – boding well for qualifying later today – and Michael Schumacher also looked decent in seventh, despite sustaining some front wing damage during the one-hour session.

His Mercedes GP team-mate Nico Rosberg was seventh-fastest, ahead of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld who rounded out the top ten.

Felipe Massa finished only 12th-fastest at the end of the session.


2010 Abu Dhabi GP Practice 3 Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault 1:40.696 18
2. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Renault + 0.133 15
3. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes + 0.584 13
4. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari + 0.794 14
5. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes + 0.882 17
6. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault + 0.993 17
7. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP + 0.994 18
8. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP + 1.033 17
9. Robert Kubica POL Renault + 1.181 18
10. Nick Heidfeld DEU Sauber Ferrari + 1.197 20
11. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Williams Cosworth + 1.238 18
12. Felipe Massa BRA Ferrari + 1.282 14
13. Rubens Barrichello BRA Williams Cosworth + 1.620 15
14. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari + 1.870 16
15. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes + 1.891 18
16. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA Force India Mercedes + 2.162 14
17. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari + 2.297 20
18. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari + 2.648 18
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus Cosworth + 4.180 15
20. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Cosworth + 4.352 23
21. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth + 4.354 20
22. Bruno Senna BRA HRT Cosworth + 4.794 16
23. Lucas di Grassi BRA Virgin Racing Cosworth + 4.933 22
24. Christian Klien AUT HRT Cosworth + 5.768 17

[Original image via Sutton Images]

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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.