Vettel makes practice perfect
Sebastian Vettel set fastest lap for the third straight session as practice for the Indian Grand Prix concluded.
Red Bull Racing’s burst of strong end-of-season form continued with Sebastian Vettel setting fastest time in FP3 ahead of qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix. Vettel, winner of the last three races, had been quickest in both FP1 and FP2 also, and lowered his benchmark time by three-tenths of a second as the Buddh International Circuit continued to evolve.
Vettel’s fastest lap of 1:25.842 was set towards the end of the hour. By the close of the session McLaren’s Jenson Button had narrowed the gap to within two-tenth. Mark Webber was third in the other Red Bull, ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the other McLaren. Kimi Räikkönen was fifth for Lotus, ahead of Bruno Senna for Williams. Fernando Alonso managed seventh for Ferrari, Nico Hülkenberg was eighth for Force India, Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes was ninth and Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten.
After an installation lap, Vettel returned to the garage as Red Bull opted to watch the first 20 minutes of the session. When they did finally emerge again, Vettel and Webber went instantly to the top of the lists, with Webber initially in P1. Vettel soon took the spot with a time of 1:26.822. Two laps later he dropped his time by a second with a lap of 1:25.892. Switching to the soft tyre he would go on to shave five-hundredths off that.
The challenging layout and grip level were still encouraging spins, including a rare one from Webber; the Australian losing control in the final corner, though not coming to any harm, at the end of his hard tyre running. He, like Vettel, left his soft tyre run until the last five minutes of the session. Button, who went out for a longer soft stint, managed to split them.
Outside the top ten, Felipe Massa for Ferrari was 11th, ahead of Pastor Maldonado’s Williams. Sergio Pérez was 13th for Sauber, Paul di Resta 14th in the second Force India and Nico Rosberg 15th for Mercedes. Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne were sixteenth and seventeenth in their Toro Rossos, ahead of Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber. In the battle of the backmarkers, Heikki Kovalainen edged out team-mate Vitaly Petrov as Caterham took 19th and 20th. Timo Glock was ahead of Charles Pic for Marussia, and right at the back Narain Karthikeyan was the quicker HRT with Pedro de la Rosa 24th and last.