Sebastian Vettel has made his intentions perfectly clear to rivals Mercedes, by putting in a blistering 1:29.517 to top final practice at the Nurburgring.
Vettel was later than most in switching to the softer compound tyres but showed his Friday practice speed wasn’t a one off, by going just two tenths slower to his best lap time. He is the only driver this weekend to break into the 1:29’s.
Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber finished second and third respectively and were impressive throughout the session, but were bested by six-tenths from Vettel’s lap.
The Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa have improved on yesterday’s performance and placed themselves in the top five with two one-hundredths of a second separating the pair.
It wasn’t a good day for Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes, however, as he was struggling with the balance of his F1W04. Rather than challenge his teammate and Vettel for top honours, Hamilton found himself spending long periods in the garage as mechanics tried to correct the oversteer problems he was complaining about.
It was a similar story at the other end of the field for the battle of tenth place in the Constructors’ Championship. Caterham’s Charles Pic led the way in 19th, followed closely by Jules Bianchi in the Marussia, who was two tenths behind. Pic’s teammate Giedo van der Garde. The Dutchman finished ahead of an off-the-pace Max Chilton in the second Marussia.
Given the sheer pace the two teams have demonstrated, qualifying looks set to be a shootout between the Red Bulls and the Mercedes, with the stage certainly set for an intriguing race tomorrow.
2013 German Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:29.517||19|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:30.193||+ 0.676||19|
|3.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:30.211||+ 0.694||18|
|4.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:30.621||+ 1.104||16|
|5.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:30.639||+ 1.122||17|
|6.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:30.671||+ 1.154||19|
|7.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:30.744||+ 1.227||20|
|8.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:30.781||+ 1.264||18|
|9.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:30.966||+ 1.449||20|
|10.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:31.009||+ 1.492||18|
|11.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:31.326||+ 1.809||22|
|12.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:31.405||+ 1.888||20|
|13.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:31.733||+ 2.216||21|
|14.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:31.855||+ 2.338||18|
|15.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:31.855||+ 2.338||23|
|16.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:31.898||+ 2.381||19|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:31.969||+ 2.452||20|
|18.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:32.036||+ 2.519||23|
|19.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:33.230||+ 3.713||19|
|20.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:33.470||+ 3.953||22|
|21.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:33.964||+ 4.447||21|
|22.||Max Chilton||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:34.683||+ 5.166||20|