Mark Webber has posted the fastest time in final practice ahead of today’s qualifying session for the Japanese Grand Prix, taking advantage of a troubled session for teammate Sebastian Vettel, whose running was cut short by a KERS failure.
With track and weather conditions continuing to improve into the weekend, yesterday’s fastest times were quickly eclipsed before the field switched to the Medium-compound Pirelli tyres for a few qualifying simulations.
Romain Grosjean proved to be the quickest runner on the Hard tyres, but the Frenchman was overhauled by Webber when the Australian made his switch to the softer rubber.
The soon-to-retire driver was some six-tenths clear of the rest of the field in the closing minutes, only for the likes of the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to slash the deficit and leapfrog Grosjean with their final flying laps. The Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa rounded out the top six positions.
Jenson Button and Kimi Räikkönen were seventh- and eighth-fastest respectively, while Vettel was ninth-fastest despite being unable to perform a run on Medium compound tyres due to his technical issues.
Nico Hülkenberg was another driver who lost track time in the Sauber garage while his mechanics investigated a gearbox issue, but the German still went quick enough to grab the tenth-quickest time. He just edged out Sergio Pérez, whose McLaren mechanics worked through the night to assemble the team’s spare car after the Mexican opted to switch chassis’ following his Friday practice accident.
Adrian Sutil’s was the most dramatic, with the German losing control of his Force India at the entry of Spoon Curve, biffing the front and rear ends of his car when he hit the barriers.
Saturday’s all-important qualifying session gets underway at 2:00pm local time (GMT +9).
2013 Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:
|1.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:32.053||17|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:32.187||+ 0.134||18|
|3.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:32.355||+ 0.302||18|
|4.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:32.707||+ 0.654||26|
|5.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:32.800||+ 0.747||14|
|6.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:32.815||+ 0.762||14|
|7.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:32.869||+ 0.816||17|
|8.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:33.946||+ 0.893||25|
|9.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:33.036||+ 0.983||8|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:33.076||+ 1.023||12|
|11.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:33.158||+ 1.105||15|
|12.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:33.260||+ 1.207||15|
|13.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:33.490||+ 1.437||16|
|14.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:33.638||+ 1.585||17|
|15.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:33.660||+ 1.607||19|
|16.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:33.732||+ 1.679||15|
|17.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:33.955||+ 1.902||18|
|18.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:34.773||+ 2.720||8|
|19.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:35.473||+ 3.420||20|
|20.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:35.518||+ 3.465||18|
|21.||Max Chilton||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:35.844||+ 3.791||16|
|22.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:39.378||+ 7.325||20|