Korean GP - Saturday - Practice Session 3 Report
Kubica quickest in Korea FP3
Robert Kubica (1:37.354) underlined his potential to put the Renault in among the championship contenders when he topped the final session of free practice for the inaugural Korean Grand Prix.
The Pole looked his usual, aggressive, committed self in setting a time five hundredths quicker than Lewis Hamilton's McLaren as the position at the head of the field looks as close as it ever has.
Fernando Alonso's Ferrari (1:37.426) was just a couple of hundredths down on Hamilton, with championship leader Mark Webber (1:37.441) a similarly tiny margin in arrears. The Australian looks to be in decent shape and has taken a new engine for qualifying and race.
Nico Rosberg (1:37.629) set the fifth fastest time of the session but incurred the wrath of Alonso when he badly baulked the Ferrari at the exit of Turn 15.
Ferrari would have been hoping for Felipe Massa (1:37.955) to be closer than half a second from Alonso's pace if he is to get in among the leaders and potentially take points from Alonso's championship rivals.
Jenson Button (1:38.419) looked competitive throughout but didn't get his final lap in on option tyres and dropped to seventh, just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg's Williams-Cosworth (1:38.501). Michael Schumacher (1:38.630) was ninth with the second Mercedes as Adrian Sutil's Force India (1:38.501) completed the top 10.
Sebastian Vettel had an off-track moment on his option tyre run and ended the session down in an unrepresentative 16th.
Bridgestone has reported heavy tyre graining on the opening day, which was not unexpected, but what was a surprise was that it was bi-directional. The tyre company's Hirohide Hamashima says that much will depend on how slippery the track remains on race day, which could drive high degradation and a possible two-stop race as we saw in Canada.
Overnight, some new inside kerbing has been laid on the inside of Turn 16 sto prevent drivers cutting the corner and bottoming out, which led to Sakon Yamamoto's spin which caused FP2 to be red-flagged.