Jenson Button has ensured that McLaren has taken top honours in every practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix by finishing fastest overall in an entertaining final practice session at Interlagos.
Once again, McLaren and Red Bull Racing claimed the top-four spots on the timesheets as the expected rain held off for the entire one-hour session. That being said, wet weather is almost certainly expected to have some impact in the afternoon’s qualifying session.
Conditions were considerably cooler when compared with those experienced on Friday, and Button used his higher-downforce set-up to hustle his McLaren through Interlagos’ twisty infield en route to the fastest time of the session, a 1:13.188.
It was wnough to edge Sebastian Vettel out of top spot by less than a tenth of a second, while the sisters cars of Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton were third and fourth, mere fractions slower than their respective team-mates.
Romain Grosjean claimed ‘best of the rest’ honours with the fifth-fastest time in his Lotus, and he was hotly pursued by the Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg, both of whom have shown good pace all weekend.
Grosjean’s team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen, had a completely wasted session. The Finn’s Renault engine expired after just three laps of the circuit, and he was forced to watch the rest of proceedings from the comfort of a trackside marshal’s plastic chair.
Vettel’s main championship challenger, Fernando Alonso, would be disappointed to be only eighth-fastest in the session. The Spaniard ran a higher-downforce set-up on his Ferrari, but all the cards are suggesting that he doesn’t have the raw pace to stop Vettel – 13 points ahead in the standings – from claiming a third successive championship title on Sunday.
There is, however, the matter of this afternoon’s qualifying session to contend with. And if the thunderstorms arrive as anticipated, then this could be just the influence that Alonso needs to get back into the hunt.
2012 Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:
|1.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:13.188||22|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:13.245||+ 0.057||21|
|3.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:13.385||+ 0.197||25|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:13.389||+ 0.201||17|
|5.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:13.420||+ 0.232||24|
|6.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:13.486||+ 0.298||21|
|7.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:13.602||+ 0.414||22|
|8.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:13.691||+ 0.503||15|
|9.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:13.700||+ 0.512||20|
|10.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:13.712||+ 0.524||17|
|11.||Bruno Senna||Williams Renault FW34||1:13.948||+ 0.760||20|
|12.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:14.126||+ 0.938||25|
|13.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:14.190||+ 1.002||26|
|14.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:14.192||+ 1.004||21|
|15.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:14.347||+ 1.159||24|
|16.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:14.687||+ 1.499||21|
|17.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:14.972||+ 1.784||19|
|18.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||1:15.159||+ 1.971||22|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||1:15.707||+ 2.519||21|
|20.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:15.763||+ 2.575||24|
|21.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:16.059||+ 2.871||21|
|22.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:16.198||+ 3.010||15|
|23.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:16.793||+ 3.605||18|
|24.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E20||no time||3|
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