Japanese GP - Saturday - Practice Session 3 Report

Red Bull look strong in Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel, Japanese GP 2012

Sebastian Vettel, Japanese GP 2012 


Sebastian Vettel (1:32.136) and Mark Webber (1:32.371) set the pace in the final session of free practice ahead of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Red Bulls appeared to have strong pace in the long runs on Friday but the exact status of the McLaren challenge is hard to define with both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button impeded on their quickest runs to the extent that Button (1:33.025) finished the session down in eighth place with Hamilton outside the top 10. Nobody should be fooled by that though, with Mclaren having taken pole position for the past four grands prix.

Third quickest was Felipe Massa's Ferrari (1:32.824), from Michael Schumacher's Mercedes (1:32.918) and then the closely-matched Saubers of Sergio Perez (1:32.920) and Kamui Kobayashi (1:32.924).

Romain Grosjean's Lotus (1:33.008) was in close touch but team mate Kimi Raikkonen spent much of the session in the Lotus pits as the team tried to locate the cause of a strange feeling at the back of the car that the 2007 world champion was reporting.

After losing out on FP2 with his accident at Spoon Curve, Paul Di Resta put the first of the Force Indias into the top 10 (1:33.094) and it was team mate Nico Hulkenberg's turn to give the crew some extra work, the German losing the back of the car in the middle of Degner 2 before running wide on exit and finishing his session in the tyres. The damage did not look too extensive but enough to keep the crew busy ahead of qualifying.

Pastor Maldonado's Williams (1:33.160) completed the top 10, with championship leader Fernando Alonso 11th (1:33.184).

Follow grandprixdotcom on Twitter