Marina Bay Practice 3: Vettel is the man to beat

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in FP3

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in FP3

Sep.22 (GP247) Sebastian Vettel made it three out of three as his Red Bull topped the timing sheets at the end of the final free practice session of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend at the Marina Bay Street Circuit – he was also quickest in FP1 and FP2 the previous day.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday 21 September 2012.The world champion, who dominated last year, bolted on a set of Pirelli super soft tyres and proceeded to scorch around the city centre circuit in a time of 1 minute 47.947 seconds. His time on the red banded tyres was over 1.5 seconds better than  he was able to achieve on the yellow band soft tyres.

Vettel was 0.325 seconds up on the next best driver – Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren, with Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso over half a second down with the third best time.

To be fair many of the runners did not manage to get a clean run on the super softs, as Vitaly Petrov slammed the wall exiting Turn 21 then coasted to a halt on the entry to the pit lane. This brought out the red flags with few minutes remaining in the session, with most of the gang on the faster rubber.

Petrov was not the only one to have a close encounter with concrete wall, during the hour Sergio Perez slammed it first with his Sauber in Turn 18. giving the Sauber mechanics something to keep busy with.

Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham CT01 crashes in the third practice session. Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday 22 September 2012.Some 20 minutes later Mark Webber also slapped the wall in the same place, apparently much harder than Perez’s had, which left the Red Bull limping back to the pits with a deflated tyre. But after a short examination they bolted on a new right rear and sent the Aussie out again.

At the sharp end of proceedings Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India looked impressive and claimed fourth spot on the timing screens, while Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus showed their hand for the first time with the fifth best time.

Felipe Massa was sixth fastest in the second Ferrari and Paul di Resta fractionally slower with the seventh best time.

Ironically, slowest of the Mercedes powered brigade were Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher – eighth and tenth respectively – the Silver Arrows squad appearing to be in free fall down the pecking order despite a raft of new aero bits for their W03 in Singapore.

Reading between the lines it looks set to be a shoot-out between Red Bull and McLaren for pole position with Vettel looking the most likely, with Alonso as the outsider…

Subbed by AJN.

Singapore Grand Prix, Free practice 3 – Saturday, 22 September 2012

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:47.947 15
2 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:48.272 0.325 15
3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:48.623 0.676 11
4 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:48.859 0.912 16
5 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:48.865 0.918 17
6 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:49.458 1.511 13
7 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:49.684 1.737 15
8 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:49.699 1.752 16
9 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:49.715 1.768 14
10 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:49.981 2.034 14
11 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:50.110 2.163 12
12 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:50.524 2.577 10
13 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:50.664 2.717 16
14 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:50.777 2.830 15
15 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:50.840 2.893 15
16 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:51.012 3.065 15
17 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:51.059 3.112 17
18 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:51.272 3.325 10
19 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:52.290 4.343 16
20 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:53.781 5.834 12
21 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:54.326 6.379 14
22 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:54.421 6.474 14
23 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:54.630 6.683 9
24 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:54.875 6.928 14