Sebastian Vettel topped the final practice session before qualifying today, with only five tenths separating the fastest nine drivers.
Vettel set a 1.36.435 which was just good enough to beat Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes. Hamilton set his time earlier in the session while Vettel along with team-mate Mark Webber practiced their long runs, languishing down the timesheet for most of the session. Webber would end up fourth, showing encouraging signs for Red Bull as the clouds once again hover for qualifying this afternoon.
Speaking of encouraging, Adrian Sutil and Force India once again showed they may put in a surprise result with the third quickest time. Sutil was second for the majority of the second before dropping down the field, and then jumped back up the time sheets to be only one tenth of Vettel’s fastest time. Paul di Resta also showed pace for the team, finishing in sixth, one thousandth of a second off yesterday’s fastest man Kimi Raikkonen.
Jenson Button finally put his McLaren in the top ten by finishing in seventh place. Encouragingly for the team he was only four tenths off the fastest time, and ahead of both Ferrari’s of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. Massa again topped his team-mate in eighth, with Alonso in tenth.
Nico Rosberg couldn’t match it with Hamilton but still finished in ninth place, showing that Mercedes too are within striking distance of a good result this weekend. Like McLaren, Williams also showed some improved pace with Pastor Maldonado in eleventh and Valtteri Bottas in fifteenth.
Sergio Perez still can’t crack the ten as he set the twelfth-fastest time, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Sauber and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean who remains a long way off his team-mate. Esteban Gutierrez was nearly a full second slower than his fellow Sauber of Hulkenberg, while once again the Toro Rosso’s struggled to match the mid field, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo in 17th and 18th again.
In the back of the field, Charles Pic took the honours, beating out Jules Bianchi and his team-mate Giedo van der Garde. Max Chilton brought up the rear of the field again, four seconds off the pace.
It looks like there could be another wet qualifying session with rain forecast and clouds hovering over Sepang, with a wide variety of teams showing promising pace as the shoot out for pole is only hours away.
2013 Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:36.435||20|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:36.568||+ 0.133||17|
|3.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:36.588||+ 0.153||19|
|4.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:36.613||+ 0.178||20|
|5.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:36.806||+ 0.371||19|
|6.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:36.807||+ 0.372||18|
|7.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:36.822||+ 0.387||16|
|8.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:36.946||+ 0.511||14|
|9.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:36.949||+ 0.514||25|
|10.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:37.302||+ 0.867||14|
|11.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:37.359||+ 0.924||11|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:37.538||+ 1.103||12|
|13.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:37.685||+ 1.250||23|
|14.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:37.690||+ 1.255||14|
|15.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:37.936||+ 1.501||16|
|16.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:38.294||+ 1.859||17|
|17.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:38.376||+ 1.941||16|
|18.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:38.425||+ 1.990||15|
|19.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:38.995||+ 2.560||18|
|20.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:39.717||+ 3.282||21|
|21.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:40.209||+ 3.774||18|
|22.||Max Chilton||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:40.495||+ 4.060||18|