Malaysian GP - Saturday - Practice Session 3 Report

One Second Covers 11

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel 

 © The Cahier Archive

Sebastian Vettel clocked the fastest time in Free Practice 3 in Malaysia. It was a tight session with just one second covering the top 11 cars, but Vettel did manage to be a tenth of a second faster than Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Sutil who wound up second and third.

It was degrees 89.6 Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) with the humidity at 51 percent when the session got underway at 1 p.m. The track temperature was 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius.)

Jules Bianchi (Marussia), Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), Max Chilton (Marussia) and Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) were the first out on the track for the 60 minute session.

Pirelli's hard compound slicks – with the orange sidewalls – were the tire of choice.

Mark Webber (Red Bull) was the first to post a lap time with a 1:44.486. Guido van der Garde quickly lowered that to a 1:41.348 in his Caterham only to be topped by his teammate Charles Pix who turned a 1:41.040. Van der Garde responded with a 1:40.900.

Red Bull's Webber and Sebastian Vettel were also turning laps, but with heavy fuel loads, so they were setting times in the 1:43.5 range.

Twelve minutes into the session Raikkonen posted a 1:38.474. Then Nico Rosberg set a 1:38.218 in his Mercedes.

Raikkonen was fastest overall on Friday with a 1:36.569.

Sixteen minutes into the session Adrian Sutil topped the times with a 1:37.933 in his Force India. Rosberg lowered that to a 1:37.916. Next it was Lewis Hamilton's turn at the top, as he did a 1:37.527 in his Mercedes. All three drivers were still on the hard compound tires.

Meanwhile, the two Red Bull drivers continued on their long runs. Although their fuel load was getting lighter, their tires were degrading and their lap times were dropping into the 1:44 range. Webber, who had a slide out on the track, then pitted after completing 12 laps. Vettel, too, had a wild moment and headed for the pits.

Halfway through the session the top six were: Lewis Hamilton, Adrian Sutil, Kimi Raikkonen, Romain (Lotus), Grosjean, Paul di Resta (Force India) and Jenson Button (McLaren.) Sergio Perez, in the other McLaren, was complaining about oversteer and was back in 12th.

Thirty two minutes into the session, Rosberg, now on the medium compound tire, clocked the fastest time at 1:36.949. Button jumped up to second with a 1:37.521.

Grosjean had found his car difficult to drive all weekend. With less than 25 minutes remaining, he was in the Lotus garage for set-up changes on his car.

With 21 minutes remaining, Hamilton, now using the medium tires, went quickest with a 1:36.568. That was 0.001 of a second quicker that the best time on Friday.

Webber, on the medium Pirellis, moved up to second with a 1:36.613. With 16 minutes remaining, Vettel tried a fast lap in the mediums but could only post the sixth fastest time with a 1:37.548.

With 12 minutes remaining, there were only five cars on the track as the other drivers prepared for their final runs to see just how quick they could expect to go in qualifying later in the afternoon on the medium tires.

Sutil turned a 1:36.588 to post the second fastest time.

With seven minutes remaining, nobody had managed to top Hamilton's best lap.

With five minutes remaining, Bianchi was the only driver not out on the track.

With three minutes remaining, Vettel turned a 1:36.435. And nobody could beat that for the final minutes of the session. Drama in the closing minutes saw Alonso abort his lap because of traffic, and the right front tire delaminate on Hamilton's Mercedes.


Follow grandprixdotcom on Twitter