Abu Dhabi GP - Saturday - Practice Session 3 Report

Setting the Stage

Nico Rosberg, Abu Dhabi GP 2014

Nico Rosberg, Abu Dhabi GP 2014 

 © The Cahier Archive


Free Practice 3 ended with Mercedes teammates Rosberg and Hamilton setting the best times and Rosberg in front. That set the stage for the qualifying sessions later that evening, which would in turn set the stage for the championship showdown in Sunday's race.

The ambient temperature at the start of the session was 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Centigrade.) The humidity was 59 percent.

The 20 driver line-up was as follows: Red Bull Renault– Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo; Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg; Ferrari – Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen; Lotus Renault – Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado; McLaren Mercedes– Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen; Force India Mercedes – Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez; Sauber Ferrari – Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez; Toro Rosso Renault – Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat; Williams Mercedes – Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas; Caterham – Kamui Kobayashi and Will Stevens.

Maldonado was first out for the 60-minute session.

Alonso, who managed to do just two laps in FP2 because of an electrical problem on the Ferrari, posted the first time: a 1:44.581.

8 minutes into the session, Rosberg ran wide at Turn 8 and continued.

The drivers were taking time to set their first times with only six of them posting times in the first 10 minutes and none of them topping Alonso. Kvyat was second with a 1:44.867.

Everybody was on the soft compound Pirelli slicks.

12 minutes into the session, Vettel went on top after clocking a 1:44.547.

14 minutes into the session, Button topped that with a 1:44.518. Vettel meanwhile said his gearbox was acting up.

15 minutes into the session, Alonso started out on the super soft tire. That was pretty early in the session, but the team had to make up for the lost time in FP2. He set a 1:42.653.

No one was going to beat Alonso's time as long as they remained on the harder tire, but 22 minutes into the session, Massa got closer with a 1:43.945. His teammate Bottas was third with a 1:44.261, but Bottas then improved to take over second place.

27 minutes into the session, Hamilton was now in third place with a 1:43.435

Midway through FP3 the top 10 were: Alonso, Bottas, Hamilton, Massa, Rosberg, Vettel, Button, Raikkonen, Kvyat and Ricciardo.

There was trouble at Ferrari as the mechanics worked furiously on the car while Alonso, in street clothes, watched from his comfy chair. His FP3 was over after just 8 laps.

With 29 minutes remaining in the session, Rosberg turned a 1:42.635 on the soft tires. Hamilton improved but remained in third place.

With 21 minutes remaining in the session, the bottom six drivers were: Magnussen, Gutierrez, Sutil, Grosjean, Kobayashi and Stevens.

So far only Alonso had been out on the super softs.

Quite a few drivers were going off the track, but with the wide runoff areas it was easy for them to regain the road without damaging their cars.

With 15 minutes remaining in the session, everybody was in the garages preparing for their qualifying simulations on the super soft Pirelli tires.

With 11 minutes remaining in the session, the Williams teammates took to the track, and Rosberg and others soon joined them. All on the super softs.

With 7 minutes remaining in the session, Massa posted a 1:42.429.

With 6 minutes remaining in the session, Rosberg posted a 1:41.424. And Hamilton turned a 1:41.888. That pushed Massa down to fourth.

With 4 minutes remaining in the session, everybody but Alonso, who as fourth, was on the track. The Mercedes were a full second quicker than the opposition.

With 2 minutes remaining in the session, Hamilton was on a fast lap but lost time in the final sector and remained third.

The top 10 at the end of FP3 were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Massa, Alonso, Vettel, Button, Ricciardo, Bottas, Kvyat and Raikkonen.

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