Sebastian Vettel did his chances of claiming a fourth consecutive Japanese Grand Prix pole position no harm this morning with a convincing run to the top of the timesheet in the final free practice session ahead of qualifying at Suzuka.
The German posted a time of 1:32.136 to beat out team-mate Mark Webber by just over two tenths of a second. With the Red Bull pair dominating the end-of-session qualifying simulations, third and fourth places were left to Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher, while fifth and sixth places were annexed by the Sauber duo of Sergio Pérez and Kamui Kobayashi respectively.
After finishing at the sharp end of proccedings in the opening two practice sessions Jenson Button drifted out to eighth place in the final session, while team-mate Lewis Hamilton ended the hour a disappointing 13th.
Fernando Alonso, too, had an unhappy outing, finishing 11th, behind the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and ninth-placed Paul Di Resta of Force India.
It was a more difficult session for the Scot’s team-mate Nico Hulkenberg. Twenty minutes into the session the German lost control of his car at the second Degner curve and crashed into the barriers, breaking the front left suspension of his car.
Kimi Raikkonen, too, had a troubled morning. The Finn, who had KERS problems yesterday, did not set a lap timed lap until close to 15 minutes before the end of FP3, complaining of handling issues with his Lotus E20. He finished in 12th position.