Indian GP - Saturday - Practice Session 3 Report

The Smoggy Bottom Boys

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel 

 © Active Pictures

Smog delayed the start of Free Practice 3, but after a 20 minute delay the F1 drivers were able to get to work. And the bottom line at the end of the session was that Red Bull's boys Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were quickest.

Smog caused visibility problems that prevented the medical helicopter from flying, so the start was delayed for 15 minutes and officials told the teams that FP3 would now last 45 minutes. Ten minutes later it was announced that the session would be delayed a further 15 minutes, but the sun started to burn away the smog and FP3 began 20 minutes after its originally scheduled time.

The ambient air temperature at the delayed start of FP3 was 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius.)

Esteban Gutierrez got things going as he headed out of pit lane in his Sauber. The teams and drivers quickly got to work as they had to squeeze their programs into the shortened 40-minute session.

Mark Webber put his Red Bull on top of the times with a lap of 1:27.879. Valtteri Bottas put his Williams into second place with a time of 1:28.854,

With 33 minutes remaining, Fernando Alonso went fastest with a 1:27.792 in his Ferrari, but Webber beat that with a 1:27.180.

The drivers were running Pirelli's medium compound slicks at this stage of FP3.

With 31 minutes remaining, Felipe Massa slotted his Ferrari into second place after turning a 1:27.214, but moments later Alonso topped that with a 1:27.187.

Sebastian Vettel, who was quickest in FP1 and FP2, was in the Red Bull garage at this stage having turned just one lap. But with 28 minutes to go he finally got back out on the track. And at the same time McLaren's Sergio Perez cut 0.044 off of Webber's time as he posted a 1:27.136.

With 26 minutes remaining, Vettel had now done 3 laps but had not set a lap time. But he was flying on lap four and shot to the top with a lap of 1:25.332 set on Pirelli's soft compound tires. In the meantime Alonso had moved up to second and McLaren's Jenson Button to third.

With 23 minutes remaining, Webber, on softs, set a 1:25.892 to claim second place.

With 21 minutes remaining, Max Chilton spun his Marussia and continued.

Just past the halfway mark the top six were: Vettel, Webber, and Massa, Lotus teammates Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, and Alonso.

With 15 minutes remaining, Vettel was the only driver among the top 10 out on track, and there were only three other drivers out there. He was on softs and did a run to see how many laps they would last. Teammate Webber joined him to do the same.

Alonso moved up to third with a time of 1:26.105, which was 0.773 slower than Vettel's time. Nico Hulkenberg was now fourth after clocking a 1:26.306 in his Sauber.

So with 6 minutes remaining, the top six were: Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Grosjean and Massa. And that did not change in the final minutes. Di Resta (Force India), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Button and Lewis Hamilton rounded out the top 10.

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