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Chinese GP 2012

APRIL 14, 2012

Practice 3 Report - McLaren dominates Saturday practice in China

Lewis Hamilton, Chinese GP 2012
© Active Pictures

McLaren and Lewis Hamilton look strongly positioned for a third consecutive pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Hamilton (1:35.940) and team mate Jenson Button (1:36.063) set the fastest times in the final session of free practice ahead of qualifying for round three of the championship. As expected, however, a changed gearbox for Hamilton means that wherever he qualifies, he will have a five-place grid penalty applied.

The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg (1:36.389) and Michael Schumacher (1:36.512) were the closest challengers on the soft Pirelli tyre, marginally quicker than Mark Webber's Red Bull (1:36.635), which is running a different specification exhaust to team mate Sebastian Vettel (1:37.039), who finished the session just ninth fastest.

Williams again look strong, with Pastor Maldonado sixth (1:36.765), two hundredths clear of Malaysian runner-up Sergio Perez, who was a tenth ahead of team mate Kamui Kobayashi (1:36.880).

Kimi Raikkonen (1:37.061) rounded out the top 10 for Lotus, which looked stronger with the higher Saturday track temperatures, which were about 10 degrees hotter than conditions that greeted the teams on Friday.

All the indications are that Ferrari are in for a tough time in qualifying, despite Fernando Alonso's Friday long run pace looking reasonable. The Spaniard finished the session 15th quickest on 1:37.465 and there are those suggesting that team mate Felipe Massa may have problems trying to get the second car out of Q1.