In what is a clear signal to their rivals that they intend to dominate qualifying and even the race, Nico Rosberg topped the timing screens ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton in the final free practice session of the British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone.
The Silver Arrows pair traded fastest laps in the late stages of the session with Rosberg ending up tops with his best time of 1:31.487 – the best of the weekend thus far – and Hamilton, apparently suffering with an allergy of sorts, 0.146 adrift, the pair ending up the only drivers to break into the 91 second zone.
Chasing hard, albeit half a second down, were the Red Bull boys with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber third and fourth respectively suggesting that there will be a titanic battle for top spot on the grid later this afternoon.
Romain Grosjean was the better of the Lotus drivers, ending the session fifth with Kimi Raikkonen eighth.
Inspired and impressive was Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso, fastest of the Ferrari powered brigade and faster than teammate – and fellow candidate for the Red Bull vacancy – Jean Eric Vergne who was 11th. The stakes in this battle have been raised substantially and the forthcoming tussle is going to be intriguing.
Fernando Alonso was seventh fastest in the Ferrari, while teammate Felipe Massa (who crashed in FP2) had his session curtailed again as the team decided to bring in the Brazilian’s F138 for an engine change – a precautionary measure they declared. Massa was 15th on the timing sheets.
Rounding out the top ten were the Force India pair with Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta ninth and tenth respectively.
One second separated the top eleven cars.
Out of the top ten and woefully out of sorts were both McLaren’s with Jenson Button ending the session 12th. Compounding the misery was teammate Sergio Perez who survived a scary moment when the left rear on the McLaren appeared to blow up. He limped around to the pits on three wheels where he lost time as he waited for repairs to the damaged floor on the MP4-28. He was 18th when the chequered flag dropped to end proceedings.
The incident forced a brief red flag stoppage as marshals were deployed to clear up the chunks of rubber lying on the track.
Williams, celebrating their 600th race weekend, were also woefully off the pace with no end to their troubles in sight. Pastor Maldonado was 13th and Valtteri Bottas 16th.
An indication of how the mighty have fallen is a comparison with where McLaren and Williams were last year in the same FP3 session at Silverstone:
- this year Button was 12th and 1.439 seconds down on Rosberg’s best, last year he was second fastest and only 0.153 seconds down on Alonso’s best of 1:32.167;
- this year Maldonado ended the 60 minutes session 1.646 seconds down on the top time, last year in the same session he was seventh fastest 0.455 seconds off best on that day.
What a difference a year makes… (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.
British Grand Prix, Free Practice 3 – Saturday, 29 June 2013
|3||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:32.037||0.550||20|
|4||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:32.078||0.591||17|
|9||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:32.536||1.049||17|
|10||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:32.571||1.084||17|
|22||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:37.443||5.956||18|