Free Practice 3:
- Ferrari: There’s a bigger gap between the two drivers this morning, Massa hardly featuring inside the top ten. Alonso out on the options is seen trying to get some heat into the tyres. Alonso pulls into the garage having set the fastest time, but questions are raised over whether he had an even faster lap left in the tyres.
- Force India: With the options on both drivers are getting some great times in.
- Hispania: Liuzzi is handed a 5 grid place penalty for a gearbox change.
- Lotus: First shot of the morning is Kovalainen’s car with the back end completely off with a hydraulic problem, but he does get out. Chandhok is having some serious issues with his braking, locking up regularly around the circuit.
- McLaren: A €1800 fine went to Hamilton for speeding in the pitlane yesterday. Both drivers seem to have picked up a bit of pace overnight on the primes
- Mercedes: Schumacher has a KERS problem, and has to go into the pits but he’s soon back out again. Both are having a great session and with 20 minutes to go they’re holding off the Red Bulls, but the team have acknowledged in the past that the car is quick on low fuel runs.
- Red Bull: Webber has one of his brakes bled, but it’s a non issue as he’s at the sharp end of the times quickly. Vettel holds Webber up on a fast lap at the end, and the German gets the fastest lap today.
- Renault: Definite midfield times from the pair.
- Sauber: One of the first out on the options and sets some good times before the big guns came out.
- Toro-Rosso: Compared to Friday they’ve had a very quiet session.
- Williams: Barrichello has a front wing change halfway through the session. A rear wing design had to be scrapped after structure issues.
- Virgin: d’Ambrosio sets the first time of the morning.
Top FP3 times:
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:30.916|
|2||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:31.049|
The Virgin drivers are out first, but there are concerns for the field as the tyres were optimised to work in much warmer conditions that the 20ºC they are currently experiencing. The track is busy early on as some of the drivers venturing out some are weaving to get the temperature into the rubber. There’s a split on the tyre choices, the big guns have gone for the primes, and those with doubts on their ability to get into Q2 are on the options. Webber, Alonso, Vettel and (surprisingly) Hamilton are jostling for position on the mediums. Hamilton gets held up by Glock but still goes quicker, pushing the limits of grip that car has to get the green sectors. Massa is the biggest surprise of the session as he burns up a set of options unnecessarily. Williams are out on the options, under pressure to stay out of the first drop out zone. And Rosberg spends a scary moment in the dropout zone before putting a lap to haul himself out and put Kobayashi in. Glock bitter response to a well done from his engineer for P20 shows exactly how unhappy he is with the team’s progress. “You make my life difficult in the last two races. The car is just so difficult to drive at the moment.”
Out in Q1 are: KOB, KOV, GLO, CHD, DAM, LIU, RIC and all are inside the 107% rule
McLaren are still pushing hard in this session, barely making an impact all weekend they have suddenly found the pace to push Ferrari and Red Bull. When I say McLaren I mean Hamilton, and when I say Ferrari I mean Alonso. Massa in on the options again, he’s definitely feeling the pressure to compete with Alonso and so far this year he’s always lined up on the grid behind him, and this race is no different. The front runners go out for a single run and quickly pit once they set a decent time. As Petrov comes round for his final lap he pushes team mate Heidfeld out of the top 10, and Sutil does the same to di Resta.
Out in Q2 are: HEI, DIR, MAL, BAR, PER, BUE, ALG
Tensions are running high for the final session, it was assumed that it would be a Ferrari/Red bull battle for pole position, but Hamilton has found something in his car and is wringing every last drop of power out of it. Alonso, Hamilton and Webber look very comfortable out on track, the Australian being very brave on the brakes, as is the Brit. It’s all down to the final lap to see where the top men will line up on the track tomorrow, as they cross the line. Alonso is doing better, but Webber is coming up from behind faster and flashing purple. Alonso can’t beat Webber’s last lap and goes second, Webber himself improves by 2 tenths. Hamilton and Vettel are the only ones able to pip him to the post, and for the first time in 15 races Vettel won’t be starting on the front row, but in 3rd. Hamilton drives out of his fan-designed overalls to split the Red Bulls, and Webber takes his second consecutive pole and remains the only other pole sitter this season.
Top Qualifying times:
|1||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:30.079|
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:30.216|