Mark Webber set the pace in the final practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix

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 looks on as his damaged car is craned awaySlightly gusty conditions and the low track grip made conditions tricky for several runners, with a number having off-track moments and lock-ups over the course of the one-hour session.

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:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:32.053   17
2. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:32.187 + 0.134 18
3. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:32.355 + 0.302 18
4. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:32.707 + 0.654 26
5. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:32.800 + 0.747 14
6. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:32.815 + 0.762 14
7. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:32.869 + 0.816 17
8. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:33.946 + 0.893 25
9. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:33.036 + 0.983 8
10. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 1:33.076 + 1.023 12
11. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:33.158 + 1.105 15
12. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:33.260 + 1.207 15
13. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:33.490 + 1.437 16
14. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 1:33.638 + 1.585 17
15. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:33.660 + 1.607 19
16. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 1:33.732 + 1.679 15
17. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 1:33.955 + 1.902 18
18. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:34.773 + 2.720 8
19. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT03 1:35.473 + 3.420 20
20. Charles Pic FRA Caterham Renault CT03 1:35.518 + 3.465 18
21. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:35.844 + 3.791 16
22. Jules Bianchi FRA Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:39.378 + 7.325 20

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.