Italian GP - Saturday - Practice Session 3 Report

Red Sandwich

Sebastian Vettel, Italian GP 2013

Sebastian Vettel, Italian GP 2013 

 © The Cahier Archive

Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber formed the outer crusts of the sandwich for Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari in Saturday morning’s Free Practice 3 for the Italian Grand Prix.

Vettel was fastest ahead of Alonso and Webber

The ambient .air temperature at the start of the 60-minute session was 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was also 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius).

Marussia driver Max Chilton was the first out on the track.

Once the drivers started setting lap times, Sergio Perez went to the top of the charts with a 1:26.489 in his McLaren.

11 minutes into the session, Paul di Resta beat that with a time of 1:26.230 in his Force India. But Perez, after a cool down lap, responded with a 1:26.004.

16 minutes into the session, Kimi Raikkonen broke into the 1:25s when he posted a 1:25.871 in his Lotus. He then improved that to a 1:25.514 while Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) slotted into second with a 1:25.551.

20 minutes into the session, Red Bull teammates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber headed out on to the track for their first flying laps of the session. And Vettel immediately turned the fastest time of the day with a 1:25.265 while Webber’s time – 1:25.655 – was fifth best. His next lap of 1:25.348 put him second on the timing screens. Vettel then improved to a 1:24.947.

The drivers were running Pirelli’s hard compound slick tires.

25 minutes into the session, Webber improved to a 1:25.168.

Ferrari teammates Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa had yet to set a time. 27 minutes into the session, they finally did with a 1:25.458 (fourth) and a 1:25.702 (tenth) respectively. They practiced giving each other a slipstream tow and things were definitely working out better for Alonso. Alonso’s next timed lap was a 1:25.151 which was good enough for second.

Just past the midpoint of the session the top six were: Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Jenson Button (McLaren), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Pastor Maldonado (Williams.)

33 minutes into the session, Paul di Resta went straight off at the end of the back straight and crashed his Force India into the barriers at Parabolica. He radioed in that something had broken to cause him o go off. Then his teammate Adrian Sutil spun and continued at the Turn 9 Ascari chicane.

With 21 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel, still on the hard compound Pirelli, improved to a 1:24.736 and then a 1:24.551. Webber improved marginally to a 1:25.120 to regain second place.

With 15 minutes remaining in the session, the top six were: Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Button, Hamilton and Maldonado. Raikkonen, Vergne, Valtteri Bottas (Williams) and Massa rounded out the top 10.

So far nobody had run the medium compound tire, but with 13 minutes to go, every driver was in the pits as the crews prepared their cars for qualifying simulations on the softer of the two tire compounds. Di Resta was out of action, however, after crashing his car.

With 9 minutes remaining in the session, Button became the first driver to head back out.

With 6 minutes remaining in the session, every driver except Nico Rosberg (whose overheating Mercedes needed repairs) and di Resta was out turning laps.

At the end of the first set of runs, the top three were: Vettel, Alonso, Webber. All three drivers improved on their second runs but the order remained unchanged with Vettel (1:24.360) fastest ahead of Alonso (1:24.643) and Webber (1:24.677).

Hamilton turned a 1:24.712 to set the fourth fastest lap ahead of Perez, Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), Massa, Button, Maldonado and Raikkonen.

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