Sebastian Vettel was quickest in the final practice session

As the ongoing rumbling over the exhaust regulations hammered on behind closed doors, championship leader Sebastian Vettel has once again declared himself as a favourite to take yet another pole position this season by ending the third practice session of the British Grand Prix as the quickest overall driver.

Although showers and drizzle continued to impact proceedings, drivers had their first opportunity for at least some dry-weather running this weekend ahead of qualifying, and today’s 60-minute session was frenetic.

A shower in the middle of the session looked as though it would put pay to any hopes of some late, low-fuel qualifying-style runs, but it passed the circuit quickly and the running could continue as normal.

With two minutes to go, Vettel clocked a lap of 1:31.401 to displace provisional leader Fernando Alonso by just 0.063 seconds. He looked set to post a quicker lap the next time round, but the heaven opened once again to thwart his hopes.

Despite losing some running mid-session while a mechanical issue was attended to in the team garages, Mark Webber went third-fastest – ahead of Felipe Massa – after being among the quickest in the first half of the session.

A quick run late in the session saw Pastor Maldonado take a surprise fifth-fastest on the timesheets, almost half-a-second quicker than sixth-fastest Jenson Button in the McLaren.

The sister McLaren of Lewis Hamilton was down in 13th-fastest, behind both Saubers, Mercedes GP entries and both Force Indias.

Michael Schumacher finished the session eleventh-fastest after also losing time in the pits with mechanical issues, while the Renaults continued their anonymous run this weekend: Vitaly Petrov was 15th-fastest, while Nick Heidfeld was only eighteenth-quickest, just 0.4 seconds faster than Heikki Kovalainen.

It was another Noah’s Ark formation at the bottom of the timesheets, with the Lotus’ leading the Virgin Racing and HRT entries. Vitantonio Liuzzi ended the session slowest behind rookie team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, having suffered a spin on his out-lap.



2011 British Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault RB7 1:31.401 17
2. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari F150° Italia + 0.063 20
3. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Renault RB7 + 0.428 12
4. Felipe Massa BRZ Ferrari F150° Italia + 0.768 20
5. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Cosworth FW33 + 1.095 20
6. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 1.555 18
7. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C30 + 1.613 20
8. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 1.643 23
9. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C30 + 1.863 21
10. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 2.022 22
11. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 2.150 11
12. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 2.259 22
13. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 2.441 16
14. Rubens Barrichello BRZ Williams Cosworth FW33 + 2.504 21
15. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault R31 + 2.641 22
16. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 2.928 20
17. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 3.398 20
18. Nick Heidfeld DEU Renault R31 + 3.421 21
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus Renault T128 + 3.824 21
20. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Renault T128 + 5.504 21
21. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 6.213 18
22. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 6.667 20
23. Daniel Ricciardo AUS HRT F1 Cosworth F111 + 6.888 19
24. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA HRT F1 Cosworth F111 + 7.167 17

[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.