Sebastian Vettel

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:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault RB7 1:37.258 15
2. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari F150° Italia + 0.420 16
3. Felipe Massa BRZ Ferrari F150° Italia + 0.582 17
4. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Renault RB7 + 0.810 13
5. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 1.068 13
6. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 1.322 15
7. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 1.483 13
8. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 1.541 14
9. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault R31 + 1.564 17
10. Nick Heidfeld DEU Renault R31 + 1.855 15
11. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 2.153 19
12. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C30 + 2.520 18
13. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 2.565 18
14. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C30 + 2.590 18
15. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 2.630 17
16. Rubens Barrichello BRZ Williams Cosworth FW33 + 2.729 18
17. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Cosworth FW33 + 2.746 16
18. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 2.981 20
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus Renault T128 + 4.009 15
20. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Renault T128 + 4.432 18
21. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 5.299 18
22. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA HRT F1 Cosworth F111 + 5.985 17
23. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 6.051 18
24. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRT F1 Cosworth F111 + 7.372 19

[Image 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.