Japanese GP - Saturday - Practice Session 3 Report
Mark Webber clocked the fastest time in Free Practice 3 for the Japanese Grand Prix. Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg ended up second and third while Webber's Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel was only ninth after missing the end of the session because of a mechanical problem on his car.
Esteban Gutierrez was the first out in his Sauber followed by Jules Bianchi whose Marussia had been repaired overnight after his accident in FP1.
The ambient air temperature at the start of the 60-minute session was 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 95 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius.)
Once the install laps were completed, it was time to get down to work. Pirelli's hard compound was the tire of choice early in the session.
Kimi Raikkonen completed the first flying lap 6 minutes into the session and set a time of 1:40.877, but his Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean beat that with a 1:36.187. Raikkonen responded with a 1:33.741 while Grosjean had a brief off at Turn 17. A few minutes later Grosjean again went off at Turn 17.
11 minutes into the session, Sergio Perez moved into second place after posting a 1:34.586 in his McLaren. Raikkonen, meanwhile, had improved to a 1:33.637 only to have Grosjean beat that with a 1:33.232.
17 minutes into the session, Mark Webber clocked a 1:32.722 in his Red Bull. Teammate Sebastian Vettel moved into third with a time of 1:33.327. Vettel locked up the front left tire and flat spotted it. "Not great," he said on the radio. But he did go faster and set a 1:33.036 for second place.
21 minutes into the session, Nico Hulkenberg radioed that there was a problem with the exhaust on his Sauber and that the engine sounded strange. He pitted for repairs.
27 minutes into the session, Raikkonen snatched second spot with a time of 1:32.946. But that became third as Grosjean went fastest with a 1:32.707.
At the halfway point of FP3 the top six were: Grosjean, Webber, Raikkonen, Vettel and Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Hamilton said that the track was completely different to Friday and had so much grip.
Adrian Sutil could have used some of that grip as he spun his Force India into the barriers at the Spoon Curve.
With 20 minutes remaining in the session, the top six remained unchanged. Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Jenson Button (McLaren), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) rounded out the top 10.
A couple of drivers had been out on the medium compound tires but most remained on the hards.
With 14 minutes remaining in the session, just about everybody was in the pits having their cars set up for qualifying simulations on the medium tires. Only the two Lotus boys were on track.
With 11 minutes remaining in the session, Hulkenberg was back in action in his repaired Sauber.
With 8 minutes remaining in the session, a few more drivers including the Ferrari boys headed out on the medium tires.
With 6 minutes remaining in the session, only Vettel and Rosberg remained in the pits. Alonso took over third place with a 1:32.800.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, Webber took first with 1:32.053. Only Vettel was in the pits. Massa moved into fourth and Button fifth.
With less than 1 minute remaining in the session, Rosberg grabbed second with a1:32.355.
The checkered flag ended FP1 at noon, and a few seconds later Hamilton crossed the line to record a 1:32.187 and move into second place.
The top 10 in FP3 were: Webber, Hamilton, Rosberg, Grosjean, Alonso, Massa, Button, Raikkonen, Vettel (who never went out for a final run) and Hulkenberg.