Sebastian Vettel was the quickest man (only just) in the final practice session

Sebastian Vettel has thrown down the gauntlet to claim a record-breaking fifteenth pole position of the season after going fastest in the final free practice session at the Brazilian Grand Prix. But qualifying will be a close-run affair, with the German only just edging out team-mate Mark Webber and the two McLarens, who were all covered by less than two-tenths of a second.

After Webber led the way in yesterday’s first practice session and Lewis Hamilton went quickest in the afternoon, Vettel became the third different driver to finish on top in a practice session at São Paulo.

A host of different drivers took turns at the top of the timesheets as the fastest times continued to be posted; Vettel finally vaulted to the top with a time just 0.087 seconds quicker than Button, who finished five-hundredths faster than third-quickest Webber.

Lewis Hamilton ended the session fourth-fastest, while Fernando Alonso claimed fifth, despite an off at the Senna ‘S’.

Force India’s impressive Brazilian weekend continued and it ensured it has had both cars inside the top-ten at every session at Interlagos so far. Adrian Sutil ended the one-hour session sixth-quickest with team-mate Paul di Resta ninth; the pair sandwiched the works Mercedes’ of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.

Felipe Massa was a disappointing tenth-fastest, although he took the mantle as the fastest Brazilian in the field, two spots better than Rubens Barrichello, who gave Williams a long overdue competitive showing. Their compatriot Bruno Senna was down in seventeenth, although less than 0.2 seconds slower than Barrichello, giving a clear indication of how tight the midfield battle is here.

Sébastien Buemi had a tough session and will have an uphill struggle in qualifying, after his Toro Rosso developed an hydraulics leak.



2011 Brazilian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault RB7 1:12.460 21
2. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 0.087 19
3. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Renault RB7 + 0.137 21
4. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 0.162 15
5. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari F150° Italia + 0.305 17
6. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 0.653 22
7. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 0.826 21
8. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 0.933 19
9. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 0.959 19
10. Felipe Massa BRZ Ferrari F150° Italia + 1.123 18
11. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault R31 + 1.378 20
12. Rubens Barrichello BRZ Williams Cosworth FW33 + 1.823 19
13. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 1.826 20
14. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C30 + 1.851 24
15. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Cosworth FW33 + 1.994 22
16. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C30 + 2.087 24
17. Bruno Senna BRZ Renault R31 + 2.091 15
18. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Renault T128 + 3.383 24
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus Renault T128 + 3.566 22
20. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 4.156 26
21. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA HRT F1 Cosworth F111 + 4.683 23
22. Daniel Ricciardo AUS HRT F1 Cosworth F111 + 4.836 23
23. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 5.524 23
24. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 no time 3

[Image via LAT]

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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.