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Spanish GP 2012

MAY 12, 2012

Practice 3 Report - Vettel tops interesting final practice

Sebastien Vettel, Spanish GP 2012
© The Cahier Archive

Sebastian Vettel (1:23.168) topped the final session of free practice for Sunday's Spanish GP but another intriguing battle is in prospect as FP3 once again featured eight different chassis in the top 10 positions.

Lewis Hamilton (1:24.778) was not among those top 10 runners but gave every indication that he will be in the pole fight when he set quickest time in sectors one and two before being blocked by an HRT and Kimi Raikkonen in the last sector.

The McLarens seem competitive on the softer of the Pirelli tyres but are struggling more on the hard compound tyre. Overnight, Jenson Button, who was troubled by big understeer in the Friday afternoon session, has switched from Hitco brake material to Carbone Industrie, as run by team mate Hamilton.

The two brake systems provide a different feel and it is not often that a driver will change in the middle of a race weekend. The thinking is likely to be that the Carbone Industrie system puts more heat through the brake ducts into the wheel, and hence the tyre, helping to alleviate Button's understeer issue.

Second fastest time of the session came from Pastor Maldonado's Williams (1:23.336), which was just a couple of hundredths clear of Kamui Kobayashi (1:23.350). The Saubers have demonstrated impressive pace on both Pirelli compounds, with Sergio Perez (1:23.742) also in the top five as the pair sandwiched Mark Webber's Red Bull (1:23.578).

Fernando Alonso (1:23.807) got a reasonable soft tyre lap out of the Ferrari, ahead of Jean Eric Verge's Toro Rosso (1:23.833), Button's McLaren (1:23.909), Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus (1:23.936) and Nico Rosberg's Mercedes (1:24.070).

Michael Schumacher (1:24.826) finished up an unrepresentative 17th after a moment in the middle of the high-speed Turn 9 on his soft tyre lap after taking too much kerb on entry.

Romain Grosjean, whose race pace on Friday rang alarm bells for many of Lotus's rivals, stopped early in the session with a fuel pressure problem.