Suzuka Practice 3: Vettel and Webber set the pace
6 October, 2012
Oct.6 (Apex) Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber hogged the top spots on the timing screens after the final free practice session of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend at Suzuka as the energy drinks team set the pace in a dominant manner a few hours before qualifying.
At the front, Vettel ended the session 0.235 seconds up on his teammate, but a whopping 0.688 ahead of the best of the rest – Felipe Massa in the Ferrari. Interestingly the Brazilian was, unusually, almost half a second up on teammate and world championship leader Fernando Alonso who appeared to be struggling and could only manage the 11th best time a full second down on the top time.
Fourth was Michael Schumacher who recovered from his Mercedes bending excursion during the Friday afternoon practice session. The six time Japanese GP winner was a second up on team mate Nico Rosberg who was way down the order, 15th fastest after the 60 minutes session.
Sauber continue to impress and are looking possible podium contenders at this stage, with their tyre efficiency likely to be a big factor on the abrasive track. Sergio Perez was a mere 0.004 seconds up on local hero, teammate Kamui Kobayashi, putting the Swiss team’s drivers fifth and sixth.
Romain Grosjean was seventh fastest, and a quarter second up on Lotus teammate Kimi Raikkonen who was twelfth when the chequered flag fell to end the session. The Finn has been struggling with a faulty KERS all weekend.
The McLaren’s were unexpectedly down the order, suggesting that they are keeping their big guns for qualifying with Jenson Button eighth fastest and 0.889 down on Vettel’s best. Lewis Hamilton was 13th and 1.433 off the top pace.
The tricky nature of Suzuka took its toll on the opening day, and again in FP3 – 40 minutes into the session -as Nico Hulkenberg lost the rear end as the Force India got big oversteer going into the second Degner Curve and slammed the barrier side on and crumpling the front left of the VJM05. Another busy day for the Force India crew, as Paul di Resta had also crashed on the previous day.
Rounding out the top ten was Pastor Maldonado in the Williams, his teammate Bruno Senna, who was quicker than the Venezuelan the previous day was 16th.
Red Bull looks well and trully poised to dominate qualifying if FP3 is anything to go by. But Mclaren cannot be counted out as they showed strong pace on day one of Suzuka action. The morning session may have just been a race set-up programme for both drivers, of which Button has a five grid place penalty and no matter what will not start on pole, or the first five positions on the grid for that matter.
Subbed by AJN.
Japanese GP Practice 3, Suzuka – Saturday, 6 October 2012
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:32.136||17|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:32.371||0.235||20|
|9||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:33.094||0.958||17|
|18||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:34.369||2.233||11|
|24||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:36.875||4.739||16|
- Gutierrez: I feel great satisfaction, it’s been a lot of work to get up to this point
- Former first lap nutcase Grosjean earning the respect of his peers
- Horner: It’s unimaginable that Vettel has had the run of success that he’s had
- Massa ignores Ferrari team orders but Alonso not concerned
- Japanese GP: Vettel doesn’t go bananas but still leads Red Bull rampage at Suzuka
- Japanese Grand Prix: All the driver quotes from Suzuka
- Vettel: It looks very good at this stage but it’s not over before it’s over
- Webber: A sensational result for me in my last time here in Japan in Formula 1
- Grosjean: I thought it was the day that the first victory was coming
- Alonso: It’s a happy day – the leading points scorer in F1 is something great