Free Practice 3:
Overnight repairs were made to the troublesome kerbs around the track. After the kerbs at turn 3 and 14 were removed, white lines were painted to denoted the edge of the track, however they have been warned not to stray over it too often by the FIA.
- Ferrari: Both drivers are late to leave the garage for a timed lap. Alonso was on the edge during a timed lap, having to catch his car a couple of times. Alonso is having both front torsion bars changed with 15 minutes to go.
- Force India: di Resta was still getting to grips with the new track, and Sutil was finding some good pace.
- Hispania: Ricciardo is on a long first run.
- Lotus: The team confirmed that Kovalainen fire was due to an optimistic brake choice.
- McLaren: Both drivers will be running a new rear wing. Button is getting the most out of the session to make up for the time he lost yesterday. Hamilton reported that the track feels slippery on the prime tyre, and on a low fuel he straddles the kerbs at turn 7.
- Mercedes: The team have used one of their joker card by breaking curfew. Schumacher gets caught up behind a slower Maldonado and show his frustration with a raised hand.
- Red Bull: Used 3/4 curfews due to their marketing team, but claim it was a mistake. Both drivers put down an installation lap, but were late in posting a time. Both cars are running in race-spec, and the team are concerned about tyres.
- Renault: The team have abandoned their upgrade package for this weekend due to cooling issues.
- Sauber: Kobayashi hit the ground running, making up for a scrappy Friday. Perez joins his tem mate in bashing his car over the kerbs.
- Toro-Rosso: Franz Tost broke curfew on Friday by arriving too early to the track.
- Williams: Maldonado, on a slow lap, didn’t see Schumacher coming up fast behind him. Both drivers are the first to take a lap on the options.
- Virgin: Another team using up one of the curfew joker cards. D’Ambrosio took a trip through the chicane, becoming another to miss it.
Top FP3 times:
|1||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:46.081|
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:46.345|
Williams’ Barrichello is the first to take to the grid as the twenty minutes session counts down. Word from Mercedes is that traffic is going to be an issue as the drivers fight for clean air. It isn’t until halfway through that the big guns come out, and Vettel gets into the zone early on and sets unbeatable times. The usual 6 are in contention, Button makes up fortime lost on Friday to keep ahead of his team mate but has issues with understeer that is rectified with a front wing adjustment. The excitement however, is much further down the field with the midfield desperate not to become ‘the other one’. In the closing stages of the first session it is down to the two Renault drivers, Senna and Petrov. Petrov is down in 17th and puts in his last lap to save himself but bump Senna out, but with this knowledge the Brazilian returns the favour. The warning about traffic comes loud and clear over Senna’s radio as he’s asked if Alguersuari held him up.
Out in Q1 are: PET, KOV, TRU, GLO, DAM, RIC, LIU and all are inside the 107%.
Hamilton is eager to get the second session of qualifying underway but is the only one of the front runners to venture out on the prime, where the rest are out on the option. Nine times are posted, but not all the drivers get a chance before Kobayashi launches himself off the chicane into the exit wall. Taking too much of the first kerb sends him over the second and in the air he’s unable to steer away from the wall, red flagging the session. With the car taken away and Kobayashi unhurt the session restarts, Schumacher and Massa quickly post their first time, but with his team mate creeping close to Vettel, Hamilton is struck by more bad luck. In 8th as he is forced back to the pits, his race day strategy is hurt by a punctured right rear. But the time is enough to see him through to Q3. Perez is just knocked out by fellow rookie di Resta in the dying seconds.
Out in Q2 are: PER, BAR, MAL, BUE, SEN, ALG, KOB
The final 10 minutes is a vision of symmetry as their a just 5 teams are battling it out, Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Force India. But as expected some are reluctant to get involved in the battle for pole with Vettel, Force India, and Schumacher, didn’t join the track to post a time further highlighting a common theme that’s been seen all year. Traffic again is an issue, with the cars bunching up on their out laps, Hamilton shows his frustration at the weekend so far by dashing up the outside of Massa. The Brit sets a time but retires to the garage in second, but fails to rejoin the others as human error sees his fuel being pumped out rather than in. It’s then up to Button and Webber to spoil Vettel’s day, neither can but Webber puts in a storming lap to take 2nd, and Button nips ahead of Hamilton. Ferrari fill in the third row with Mercedes behind.
Top Qualifying times:
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:44.381|
|2||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:45.378|