Practice 3: Vettel too fast yet again
25 September, 2010
Sep.25 (Grand Prix 247) Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the final free practice session of the Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Circuit. At the end of the hour session, which started on a dampish track, the timing screens showed that the German was 0.622 seconds faster than his closest rival Fernando Alonso and a second faster than his team mate Mark Webber.
However it does not show that a yellow flag period in the closing stages put paid to anyone going faster. And at the time the big guns were all on flyers. Nevertheless it would be foolish to bet against Vettel taking pole as his form and pace around the street circuit, at night, has been sensational. His rivals having to play some serious catch-up.
Alonso ended second fastest, showing that the Ferrari F10 without the F-duct system, was also quick around Marina Bay Circuit. The Spaniard having recovered from an “experimental gearbox component” gfailure on the first day which curtailed his running.
Ferrari summed it up on Twitter, “Lap times are not too representatives as the last two minutes were affected by yellow flags. Anyway, it is clear that Red Bull is the quickest car today.”
Lewis Hamilton has worked hard to optimize his setup since the start of the weekend including the use of a high downforce front wing. The Briton showed his satisfaction by going third fastest and although the margin to Vettel was nearly a full second, Hamilton was one of those on a quick lap which was interrupted by the yellow flag period at the very end of the session.
Edging closer to the pace of his Ferrari team mate was Felipe Massa who ended fourth fastest.
Sixth on the timing screens was Nico Rosberg who managed to extract the maximum from the Mercedes GP while his team mate Michael Schumacher ould only manage 15th best time, down over a second on his fellow German team mate.
World Championship leader Mark Webber, another fast last lap interrupted victim, ended the session sixth fastest.
Bringing his Monza form to Singapore was Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg who ended the session seventh fastest and best of all the rookies and first timers at the Marina Bay street circuit.
Struggling to find pace yet extracting the maximum out of Renault R30 was Robert Kubica who was eighth fastest.
Adrian Sutil, who broke the front suspension on his Force India after some extreme kerb hopping the previous day, ended the session ninth.
Toro Rosso’s pace around Marina Bay Circuit has been impressive with Jaime Alguersuari impressing on the first day and Sebastian Buemi ending tenth quickest in the final free practice session.
Comeback Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld was fractionally quicker than his team mate Kamui Kobayashi. Fellow returnee Christian Klien was slowest but one, his team mate Bruno Senna slowest of all who further ended the session after tapping the wall and bringing out the yellow flags that scuppered everyone’s last gasp flying laps.
Thus the stage is set for the qualifying shootout under lights. The Red Bulls have the upper hand, no doubt, but the pressure from the other contenders is ominous and in the end it will be the driver that holds his nerve and pumps out some ultra-quick laps when it matters.
Betting against Vettel would be brave, but at the same time if any of the five contenders had to fold due to pressure he may be the one as he is up against three world champions in Alonso, Hamilton and Button and of course his own shrewd, title hungry and vastly experienced team mate Webber.
Apparently 240,000 tickets have been sold for the race night. Thus these live race fans – coupled to the billion or so TV viewers around the globe – are in for one helluva qualifying session and a humdinger of a race. Stay tuned!
Free Practice 3 Results – Saturday, 25 September 2010
|5||4||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:49.056||1.028||17|
|9||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:49.916||1.888||15|
|15||3||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:50.067||2.039||14|
|16||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1:50.868||2.840||16|
|17||22||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:51.016||2.988||15|
|18||23||Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:51.027||2.999||17|
|21||25||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth||1:53.297||5.269||15|