Yas Practice 3: Hamilton fastest, problems for Vettel

Lewis Hamilton at Abu Dhabi GP

Lewis Hamilton fastest in FP3

Nov.3 (GP247) Lewis Hamilton and McLaren turned the tables overnight on arch rivals Red Bull, as the 2008 world champion topped the timing sheets at the end of the final free practice session of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, while Sebastian Vettel sat out most of the session with a brake problem but nevertheless set the third best time in a final run at the very end of the session.

Jenson Button at Abu Dhabi GPHamilton dominated one hour at  the Yas Marina Circuit in the blazing sun, and was remarkably quick with the medium Pirelli tyres, although his best time – of 1 minute 42.130 seconds – was set with the yellow band soft option tyre, it was not much faster than he achieved with the harder compound tyre.

Closer to Hamilton than he has been most of the weekend was Jenson Button, who ended up second on the timing sheets 0.290 seconds down on his teammate.

Up next were the Red Bull pair, Vettel only really getting half a dozen minutes right at the end to stretch the RB8. The rest of the time it was up on stilts as mechanics changed the front brake calipers.

Nevertheless when he did get going it took him no time to get right up there. Teammate Mark Webber was fourth fastest.

Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing prepares to drive during practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 2, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian VettelAgain having an impressive weekend was Nico Hulkenberg who was fifth fastest in the Force India, impressive because his teammate Paul di Resta was half a second down in tenth.

Romain Grosjean was fastest of the Lotus duo with the sixth best time, with Kimi Raikkonen ninth on the timing screens when the chequered flag dropped.

Seventh fastest was Pastor Maldonado in the Williams, with teammate Bruno Senna down in 17th.

Ferrari appear to be all over the place this weekend, either a ploy to hide their true potential or really struggling to match the pace setters with the current raft of upgrades. Fernando Alonso was eighth fastest, with Massa 11th.

Both Mercedes were out of the top ten with Nico Rosberg a tad faster than Michael Schumacher, the Silver Arrows 13th and 14th respectively.

All signs suggest a McLaren versus Red Bull slug-fest in qualifying and perhaps even in the race, with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel leading the charge for their respective teams.

Subbed by AJN.

Free Practice 3 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit – Saturday, 3 November 2012

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:42.130 18
2 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:42.420 0.290 17
3 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:42.614 0.484 7
4 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:42.743 0.613 18
5 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:42.750 0.620 19
6 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:43.015 0.885 18
7 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:43.064 0.934 19
8 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:43.133 1.003 15
9 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:43.184 1.054 22
10 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:43.338 1.208 19
11 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:43.480 1.350 17
12 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:43.571 1.441 20
13 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:43.593 1.463 20
14 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:43.635 1.505 19
15 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:44.010 1.880 22
16 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:44.025 1.895 18
17 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:44.071 1.941 19
18 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:44.149 2.019 19
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:45.301 3.171 22
20 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:45.879 3.749 19
21 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:46.036 3.906 19
22 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:46.261 4.131 22
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:46.554 4.424 20
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:47.032 4.902 22