Sebastian Vettel has hit the top of the timesheets in the final practice session before this afternoon’s qualifying round for the European Grand Prix at Valencia.
Red Bull Racing and Ferrari took out the top-four spots in final practice, with Vettel lapping some 0.4 seconds faster than Fernando Alonso, while Felipe Massa and Mark Webber were not far behind.
Today’s conditions were the same as Friday’s weather conditions, with bright and sunny conditions greeting the 24 drivers in the final 60 minutes of free running.
After missing out on yesterday’s second practice session, Jaime Alguersuari got more miles in his Toro Rosso with a fresh Ferrari engine after his mechanics decided to switch V8 units. In other news, the McLaren drivers decided to keep their newly-designed front wings, while the Ferraris opted for the split strategy with theirs: Massa kept the new-spec double-plane front wing, while Alonso reverted to the triple-plane design.
Fernando Alonso was the early pace-setter, until the Red Bulls recorded the fastest two laps at the midpoint of the session.
Approaching the final ten minutes, Massa headed to the top of the timesheets until team-mate Alonso clocked purple sectors on his hot lap to eclipse the Brazilian.
And then Vettel came out once again to stamp his authority a claim the time-honoured mantle as favourite to take pole position once again with a rapid lap time of 1:37.258.
Behind the top-four, Jenson Button finished fifth-fastest as the quickest McLaren, while Nico Rosberg – who was also briefly quickest at one point – dropped to sixth. The sisters cars of Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher finished seventh- and eighth-quickest respectively.
The two Renaults completed the top ten, with Vitaly Petrov lapping fractionally quicker than team-mate Nick Heidfeld.
Despite a few minor off-track moments, the most notable incident came in the dying minutes of the session when Kamui Kobayashi suffered a major lock-up in his Sauber, shotting up an escape road and damaging his front wing.
2011 European Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault RB7||1:37.258||15|
|2.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 0.420||16|
|3.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 0.582||17|
|4.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 0.810||13|
|5.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 1.068||13|
|6.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP W02||+ 1.322||15|
|7.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 1.483||13|
|8.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP W02||+ 1.541||14|
|9.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault R31||+ 1.564||17|
|10.||Nick Heidfeld||Renault R31||+ 1.855||15|
|11.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 2.153||19|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 2.520||18|
|13.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 2.565||18|
|14.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 2.590||18|
|15.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 2.630||17|
|16.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 2.729||18|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 2.746||16|
|18.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 2.981||20|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus Renault T128||+ 4.009||15|
|20.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus Renault T128||+ 4.432||18|
|21.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 5.299||18|
|22.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 5.985||17|
|23.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 6.051||18|
|24.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 7.372||19|
[Image via GP Update]