The rest of the field seriously must be wondering what they have to do to get a break. Stuck in his pit garage for much of the final practice session with some apparent technical malady, Sebastian Vettel watches Mark Webber serenely cruise to go fastest, over a second quicker than anyone else. Having gone quickest in both Friday free practice sessions, could this be the weekend where Webber starts to make inroads on his team-mate, we all wonder?
With just a few minutes left on the session, Vettel’s RB7 gurgles into life and the German sets out of the pit lane on soft tyres. He’ll have one out-lap to gauge the track conditions and then he’ll have just one hot lap available to him. No problem.
Just three minutes later, and Vettel is on top of the timesheets. And Mark Webber can only blink at the outrageousness of it all…
With daylight placed third after the two Red Bulls – now unbackable favourites to lock out the front row in qualifying – Michael Schumacher finished a confidence-boosting third-fastest, and even headed the timing screens for a little bit after making an early switch to soft tyres.
The McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished fourth- and fifth-fastest respectively, while Nico Rosberg Mercedes made it a quartet of Mercedes-Benz power by going sixth-fastest.
Seventh-quickest and comfortably the fastest Ferrari-powered car was Kamui Kobayashi in the heavily updated Sauber, who finished four-tenths faster than eight-quickest man Vitaly Petrov in the Renault.
The big incident of the session happened to Petrov’s team-mate Nick Heidfeld, whose R30 turned into something of a bonfire 25 minutes into the session. The German smartly pulled his car over to be attended to by the fire marshals, and the team has a huge job getting his car ready for qualifying after its right-rear corner suffered significant damage.
After being stripped of their rather high rear wings, the Ferraris were well off the pace – close to 2.5 seconds, in fact – with Fernando Alonso down in ninth and Felipe Massa two spots further behind, split by Rubens Barrichello. Alonso lost time at the end of the session when his car became stuck in sixth gear.
Behind the closely fought midfield battle between the Williams, Toro Rosso and Force India drivers, Team Lotus’ much-vaunted upgrades do not yet appear to have brought the team closer to the midfield, with Heikki Kovalainen 18th and Jarno Trulli 19th-fastest – both complained that their T128s felt loose at the rear end, despite having brand new ‘blown exhausts’ fitted for the first time.
The overall pace of the Virgin Racing and Hispania Racing cars suggests that we will be lucky to see a full complement of 24 cars for tomorrow’s race, with the quickest of the foursome (Timo Glock in 21st) lapping slower than the theoretical 107% threshold for this session. The MVR-02 has again been stripped of its new Turkey upgrades, which seemingly do not work.
2011 Spanish Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault RB7||1:21.707||6|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 0.084||17|
|3.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP W02||+ 1.350||16|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 1.361||13|
|5.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 1.507||14|
|6.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP W02||+ 1.690||18|
|7.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 1.962||17|
|8.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault R31||+ 2.336||18|
|9.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 2.563||11|
|10.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 2.611||18|
|11.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 2.615||17|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 2.622||19|
|13.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 2.692||17|
|14.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 2.828||16|
|15.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 2.988||18|
|16.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 3.015||14|
|17.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 3.516||19|
|18.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus Renault T128||+ 4.529||11|
|19.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus Renault T128||+ 5.293||20|
|20.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 5.999||20|
|21.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 6.623||17|
|22.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 7.350||18|
|23.||Nick Heidfeld||Renault R31||+ 7.493||6|
|24.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 7.855||16|
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