Lewis Hamilton has led another McLaren 1-2 as the free practice sessions came to a close for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
But the major talking point was a braking problem that beset Sebastian Vettel, with the championship leader managing just a single flying lap – albeit an effort that proved good enough for third place.
With Saturday’s one-hour session proving to be the hottest conditions the field has experienced this weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit, lap times were down on yesterday evening’s second practice times, despite the field attempting qualifying simulations as they geared up for the all-important twilight qualifying session.
Ferrari broke the mandated curfew restrictions for the second time this weekend as they sought to bring the F2012 more competitiveness. However, unkind media pundits have suggested that this curfew breach was purely accidental – as opposed to yesterday’s first breach – triggered by a team member entering the paddock minutes earlier than permitted.
Hamilton – winner here last year – was dominant throughout the one-hour session, proving quickest of the field on the hard Pirelli tyres, before switching to the softer rubber and repeating the feat with a session’s best of 1:42.130, finishing less than three-tenths of a second faster than team-mate Jenson Button.
Over at Red Bull Racing, however, there was plenty of drama. Vettel failed to emerge from his garage after completing his initial installation laps, and only came back out again in the final five minutes after his mechanics sought to cure an acute brake caliper problem. Once he was back out, his one flying lap was good enough for an impressive third-fastest.
Behind the McLarens and Red Bulls, Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise ‘best of the rest’, clocking the fifth-fastest time in his Force India. The German led the equally impressive Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, who proved the quicker of the Lotus and Williams driver pairings, respectively.
Fernando Alonso finished the session eighth-fastest, over a second adrift of Hamilton’s lap time as Ferrari opted to try the same straight-line speed set-up idea it used to such good effect on race day last time out at the Indian Grand Prix.
2012 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:42.130||18|
|2.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:42.420||+ 0.290||17|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:42.614||+ 0.484||7|
|4.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:42.743||+ 0.613||18|
|5.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:42.750||+ 0.620||19|
|6.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:43.015||+ 0.885||18|
|7.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:43.064||+ 0.934||19|
|8.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:43.133||+ 1.003||15|
|9.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:43.184||+ 1.054||22|
|10.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:43.338||+ 1.208||19|
|11.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:43.480||+ 1.350||17|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:43.571||+ 1.441||20|
|13.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:43.593||+ 1.463||20|
|14.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:43.635||+ 1.505||19|
|15.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:44.010||+ 1.880||22|
|16.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:44.025||+ 1.895||18|
|17.||Bruno Senna||Williams Renault FW34||1:44.071||+ 1.941||19|
|18.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:44.149||+ 2.019||19|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||1:45.301||+ 3.171||22|
|20.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:45.879||+ 3.749||19|
|21.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:46.036||+ 3.906||19|
|22.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||1:46.261||+ 4.131||22|
|23.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:46.554||+ 4.424||20|
|24.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:47.032||+ 4.902||22|
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