Abu Dhabi GP 2012
NOVEMBER 3, 2012
Practice 3 Report - Hamilton takes fight to Red Bull
Lewis Hamilton (1:42.130) topped the final session of free practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina.
Of the 12 practice sessions that have been held since the track joined the F1 schedule in 2009, Hamilton has topped six of them, and only Lewis and Sebastian Vettel have started from the front row in Abu Dhabi.
Red Bull's Christian Horner, however, has identified Abu Dhabi as one of the tracks which might prove a bigger challenge to Red Bull as the season comes to its crucial phase. And, reinforcing his feelings, it was Jenson Button (1:42.420) who made it a McLaren 1-2 in FP3.
For most of the session Vettel sat in the garage, the Red Bull mechanics attending to an issue with the world champion's brakes. He got out in time for just a couple of flying laps on the option tyre. It was enough for him to record 1:42.614, the best part of half a second down on Hamilton. Vettel will undoubtedly shoot for the front row but pole position may be a step too far.
Mark Webber's Red Bull (1:42.743) was fourth quickest, just a hundredth quicker than a fine lap from Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India (1:42.750).
Romain Grosjean set the fastest Lotus time (1:43.015), seventh overall, five hundredths quicker than Pastor Maldonado's Williams (1:43.064).
Fernando Alonso, of course, has awful memories of Abu Dhabi, his 2010 championship hopes quashed here at the final hurdle as he fretted and fumed behind Vitaly Petrov's Renault. The indications are that Alonso could have his work cut out again this time, with the Ferrari only eighth quickest (1:43.133).
Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus (1:43.184) and Paul Di Resta's Force India (1:43.338) completed the top 10. Mercedes appears to be struggling, with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher 13th and 14th respectively.
Further down, Bruno Senna, after a strong performance in India, again finds himself 10 slots and a second shy of team mate Maldonado in Abu Dhabi, while both Marussias got themselves in front of Vitaly Petrov's Caterham.