Austin Practice 3: Vettel fastest as Red Bull duo simply too good
16 November, 2013
Sebastian Vettel, and Red Bull team as a whole, have hardly lifted off the gas despite having already bagged both the 2013 Formula 1 Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship titles. As if this is not enough they now seem intent in rubbing salt into the wounds of their rivals.
Ahead of qualifying in Austin, once again, and for the umpteenth time, Vettel topped the timings sheets ahead of teammate Mark Webber at the end of the final Free Practice session of a GP weekend – this time for the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.
Vettel’s best time of 1:36.733 was 0.203 of a second up on Webber, the two boys in blue the only ones to dip into the 96 second zone around the pristine venue.
Best of the rest was Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes who was down 0.331 of a second on the top time, with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg seventh fastest.
Again stating his case for a top line drive was Nico Hulkenberg who topped the timing screens for a period before being toppled by the Red Bull duo. When the chequered flag dropped he was fourth fastest in the Sauber and half a second faster than the next best Ferrari powered driver, namely Fernando Alonso in the ‘works’ Ferrari who was 11th on the timing sheets.
Romain Grosjean was fifth fastest in the Lotus, about half a second up on the team’s ‘new boy’ Heikki Kovalainen – replacing Kimi Raikkonen for the final two races of the a season – who ended his third session, in a black and gold cockpit, 13th fastest.
Of late the trend for McLaren has been to seem to have pace in practice, but when it matters – in qualifying and in the race – they simply fail to deliver. The Woking outfit will be hoping to reverse the trend with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez ending the session sixth and eighth respectively.
Rookie Valtteri Bottas continues to impress at a venue where he has never raced before by setting the ninth best time, which was a quarter of second up on teammate Pastor Maldonado, who was 14th on the timing screens.
Rounding out the top ten was Adrian Sutil in the Force India, also making his first visit to the Austin race track, with teammate Paul di Resta 16th.
Evidence from the three Free Practice sessions suggests that qualifying will be all about Red Bull and whether anyone can contain their dominance. It seems unlikely they won’t be on pole, and quite likely they will occupy the entire front row.
Of the likely challengers for top spot on the grid, only Hamilton has an outside chance as only he seems to have the firepower to spoil the party for the World Champions.
Subbed by AJN.
United States Grand Prix, Free Practice 3 – Saturday, 16 November 2013
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:36.733||14|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:36.936||0.203||20|
|10||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:37.748||1.015||21|
|16||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:38.275||1.542||22|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:40.056||3.323||21|