Shanghai Practice 3: Alonso leads Ferrari 1-2

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso fastest before qualifying

Ferrari hogged the top two spots on the timing screen at the end of the third free practice session of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, with Fernando Alonso ending the one hour session fastest ahead of teammate Felipe Massa.

Both Ferrari driers unleashed their hot laps late in the session with Massa first going tops, and Alonso going 0.622 seconds better with his final run. The Spaniard was the only driver to dip into the 95 seconds zone around the Shanghai International Circuit in the session.

Before that Lewis Hamilton was top of the timing screens, before he was toppled down to third. It was frustration for his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg who never really got going as a hydraulic problem curtailed his session. However the German was confident that the issue would be sorted before qualifying.

Up next were the Red Bull duo with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber fourth and fifth respectively.

Adrian Sutil continued to show impressive pace. The German ending the session  sixth best, while Paul di Resta could only manage 16th and was almost a second down on his Force India teammate.

Seventh fastest and also outshining his Louts teammate was Kimi Raikkonen in seventh, while Romain Grosjean was down in 18th clearly with a problem.

McLaren pair with Jenson Button eighth and Sergio Perez ninth. Button told BBC that there were improvements in the MP4-28 since Malaysia but nothing major.

Perez meanwhile endured two excursions which ended up in the barriers and admitted honestly to BBC, “‘We don’t really understand what happened: I had a lot of wear, the front tyres were losing temperature and as soon as I hit the brakes I locked the tyres, [but I was] not pushing at that point. ‘I’m not very confident with the car and that makes things difficult. We have so many question marks, we have to analyse everything that we have done because we don’t know which direction we are going. The car is so inconsistent for us.'”

After a subdued first day Nico Hulkenberg appeared to be peaking at the right time as he rounded out the top ten, ahead of the Toro Rosso pair Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo who were 11th and 12th respectively.

The performance woes appeared to continue at Williams who are struggling with the FW35. Pastor Maldonado was 13th and Valtteri Bottas 15th, but this only flattered to deceive as behind them were the likes of Rosberg, Di Resta and Grosjean who would for sure be higher up the order had they not had problems in the session.

Free Practice 3 Result, Shanghai – Friday, 12 April 2013

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:35.391 13
2 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:36.013 0.622 11
3 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.065 0.674 18
4 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.286 0.895 17
5 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.420 1.029 15
6 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:36.549 1.158 16
7 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:36.605 1.214 16
8 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.693 1.302 16
9 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.777 1.386 16
10 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.853 1.462 15
11 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:37.072 1.681 15
12 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:37.205 1.814 18
13 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:37.300 1.909 11
14 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:37.349 1.958 12
15 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:37.457 2.066 16
16 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:37.487 2.096 13
17 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.740 2.349 20
18 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:37.813 2.422 16
19 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:38.496 3.105 17
20 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:38.821 3.430 18
21 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:39.627 4.236 16
22 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:39.652 4.261 18