Practice 3: Vettel too fast yet again

Sebastian Vettel during practice for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 24, 2010 in Singapore.

Sebastian Vettel at speed in the final free practice in Singapore

Sep.25 (Grand Prix 247) Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the final free practice session of the Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Circuit. At the end of the hour session, which started on a dampish track, the timing screens showed that the German was 0.622 seconds faster than his closest rival Fernando Alonso and a second faster than his team mate Mark Webber.

Sebastian Vettel during practice for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 24, 2010 in Singapore.

Sebastian Vettel is a man on a mission

However it does not show that a yellow flag period in the closing stages put paid to anyone going faster. And at the time the big guns were all on flyers. Nevertheless it would be foolish to bet against Vettel taking pole as his form and pace around the street circuit, at night, has been sensational. His rivals having to play some serious catch-up.

Alonso ended second fastest, showing that the Ferrari F10 without the F-duct system, was also quick around Marina Bay Circuit. The Spaniard having recovered from an “experimental gearbox component” gfailure on the first day which curtailed his running.

Ferrari summed it up on Twitter, “Lap times are not too representatives as the last two minutes were affected by yellow flags. Anyway, it is clear that Red Bull is the quickest car today.”

Felipe Massa getting stronger as the weekend progresses

Felipe Massa getting stronger as the weekend progresses

Lewis Hamilton has worked hard to optimize his setup since the start of the weekend including the use of a high downforce front wing. The Briton showed his satisfaction by going third fastest and although the margin to Vettel was nearly a full second, Hamilton was one of those on a quick lap which was interrupted by the yellow flag period at the very end of the session.

Edging closer to the pace of his Ferrari team mate was Felipe Massa who ended fourth fastest.

Sixth on the timing screens was Nico Rosberg who managed to extract the maximum from the Mercedes GP while his team mate Michael Schumacher ould only manage 15th best time, down over a second on his fellow German team mate.

World Championship leader Mark Webber, another fast last lap interrupted victim, ended the session sixth fastest.

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg

Bringing his Monza form to Singapore was Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg who ended the session seventh fastest and best of all the rookies and first timers at the Marina Bay street circuit.

Struggling to find pace yet extracting the maximum out of Renault R30 was Robert Kubica who was eighth fastest.

Adrian Sutil, who broke the front suspension on his Force India after some extreme kerb hopping the previous day, ended the session ninth.

Toro Rosso’s pace around Marina Bay Circuit has been impressive with Jaime Alguersuari impressing on the first day and Sebastian Buemi ending tenth quickest in the final free practice session.

Comeback Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld was fractionally quicker than his team mate Kamui Kobayashi. Fellow returnee Christian Klien was slowest but one, his team mate Bruno Senna slowest of all who further ended the session after tapping the wall and bringing out the yellow flags that scuppered everyone’s last gasp flying laps.

Fans.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday 24 September 2010.

Organisers report that 240,000 tickets have been sold for the race weekend in Singapore

Thus the stage is set for the qualifying shootout under lights. The Red Bulls have the upper hand, no doubt, but the pressure from the other contenders is ominous and in the end it will be the driver that holds his nerve and pumps out some ultra-quick laps when it matters.

Betting against Vettel would be brave, but at the same time if any of the five contenders had to fold due to pressure he may be the one as he is up against three world champions in Alonso, Hamilton and Button and of course his own shrewd, title hungry and vastly experienced team mate Webber.

Apparently 240,000 tickets have been sold for the race night. Thus these live race fans – coupled to the billion or so TV viewers around the globe – are in for one helluva qualifying session and a humdinger of a race. Stay tuned!

Free Practice 3 Results – Saturday, 25 September 2010

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:48.028 15
2 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:48.650 0.622 16
3 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:49.000 0.972 12
4 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:49.023 0.995 18
5 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:49.056 1.028 17
6 6 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:49.212 1.184 13
7 10 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:49.304 1.276 17
8 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1:49.520 1.492 16
9 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:49.916 1.888 15
10 16 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:49.949 1.921 16
11 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:50.040 2.012 15
12 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:50.053 2.025 16
13 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:50.060 2.032 12
14 17 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:50.067 2.039 16
15 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:50.067 2.039 14
16 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:50.868 2.840 16
17 22 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:51.016 2.988 15
18 23 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:51.027 2.999 17
19 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:52.340 4.312 14
20 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:53.146 5.118 15
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:53.297 5.269 15
22 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:53.681 5.653 17
23 20 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1:54.826 6.798 16
24 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:55.367 7.339 16