Buddh Practice 3: Vettel tops again but rivals close the gap
27 October, 2012
Oct.27 (GP247) Sebastian Vettel made it a clean sweep of free practice for the Indian Grand Prix as he topped the timing sheets at the end of FP3. So far this weekend no one has been able to contain the pace of the reigning world champion as he steps up his quest for a third world title in as many years.
Small consolation for his rivals, bar teammate Mark Webber, was that by the end of the Saturday morning session they were closer to Vettel than they were the previous day. The world championship leader’s best time of 1 minute 25.842 seconds was ‘only’ 0.192 seconds upon the next best Jenson Button.
The McLaren driver split the Red Bull pair from annexing both top spots, with Webber third quickest and Lewis Hamilton fourth fastest. A mere 0.309 seconds separating the top quartet, and suggesting a Red Bull versus McLaren battle for pole position.
Best of the rest was Kimi Raikkonen who showed strong form in the Lotus, on his first visit to the Buddh circuit. He was fifth fastest, while fellow Buddh rookie teammate Romain Grosjean could only manage the tenth best time.
Sixth fastest was Bruno Senna in the Williams, he too outclassing teammate Pastor Maldonado who was 12th fastest at the end of the hour.
Vettel’s main championship rival Fernando Alonso, who prior to the Indian GP weekend bemoaned the lack of real development parts for the Ferrari F2012, was seventh quickest. Teammate Felipe Massa was 11th.
Again showing good pace on a track he has not previously raced on was Nico Hulkenberg, setting the eighth best time in Force India with countryman Michael Schumacher – in his last race at Buddh, ninth in the Mercedes.
With four hours of free practice concluded it is apparent that Red Bull have the edge at Buddh, the only question is how much faster they are than next best McLaren and, arguably more importantly, how much quicker they are than Alonso.
Vettel appears to have some in reserve, even coming off it on the final sector of his fastest run in FP3. Betting against a Red Bull invasion of row one in qualifying would be brave.
Subbed by AJN.
Indian Grand Prix Practice 3, Buddh International Circuit – Saturday, 27 October
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:25.842||20|
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.108||0.266||18|
|8||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.531||0.689||21|
|14||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.193||1.351||22|
|24||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:30.873||5.031||22|
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