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Malaysian GP 2012

MARCH 24, 2012

Practice 3 Report - Rosberg impressive in final Malaysia GP practice

Nico Rosberg, Malaysian GP 2012
© The Cahier Archive

Nico Rosberg (1:36.877) looks set to challenge for pole position in qualifying for the Malaysian GP after topping the final session of free practice by 0.45s.

Many were predicting that the long straights of the Sepang circuit would suit Mercedes' trick DRS-operated 'F-duct' and the silver arrows have constantly set the pace in the first sector, where straightline speed is important.

After Lewis Hamilton topped both Friday sessions quite comfortably, a whole host of new challengers set quick FP3 times, suggesting a highly competitive race.

The evenly matched Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel (1:37.320) and Mark Webber (1:37.338) were second and third quickest, but just hundredths quicker than the Lotuses of Kimi Raikkonen (1:37.356) and Romain Grosjean (1:37.382).

Jenson Button (1:37.404) was the quicker McLaren driver, sixth overall, just 0.05s clear of Pastor Maldonado's Williams (1:37.455). The Venezuelan demonstrated that his competitive showing in Melbourne was no flash in the pan and making the time all the more impressive was the fact that it was set on the harder of the two Pirelli tyres.

Michael Schumacher's best lap (1:37.663) put him eighth quickest, ahead of Hamilton (1:37.776), who spun his McLaren into the gravel at one stage. Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber (1:37.977) completed the top 10.

Ferrari's struggle continued, with Fernando Alonso 13th and Felipe Massa 18th, four tenths down on Paul Di Resta's Force India and looking as if he may struggle to escape Q1.

HRT has been working on its cooling problems and has its DRS working here, which was not the case in Melbourne. The team has also sorted out its power steering issues and, within half a second of Marussia, was inside 107% of the FP3 time and looking like it should qualify after sitting out the opening round.