Austin Practice 3: Vettel fastest as Red Bull duo simply too good

Sebastian Vettel fastest of all in FP1

Sebastian Vettel fastest of all in FP1

Sebastian Vettel, and Red Bull team as a whole, have hardly lifted off the gas despite having already bagged both the 2013 Formula 1 Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship titles. As if this is not enough they now seem intent in rubbing salt into the wounds of their rivals.

Ahead of qualifying in Austin, once again, and for the umpteenth time, Vettel topped the timings sheets ahead of teammate Mark Webber at the end of the final Free Practice session of a GP weekend – this time for the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.

Vettel’s best time of 1:36.733 was 0.203 of a second up on Webber, the two boys in blue the only ones to dip into the 96 second zone around the pristine venue.

Lewis Hamilton third fastest in FP3

Lewis Hamilton third fastest in FP3

Best of the rest was Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes who was down 0.331 of a second on the top time, with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg seventh fastest.

Again stating his case for a top line drive was Nico Hulkenberg who topped the timing screens for a period before being toppled by the Red Bull duo. When the chequered flag dropped he was fourth fastest in the Sauber and half a second faster than the next best Ferrari powered driver, namely Fernando Alonso in the ‘works’ Ferrari who was 11th on the timing sheets.

Romain Grosjean was fifth fastest in the Lotus, about half a second up on the team’s ‘new boy’ Heikki Kovalainen – replacing Kimi Raikkonen for the final two races of the a season – who ended his third session, in a black and gold cockpit, 13th fastest.

Of late the trend for McLaren has been to seem to have pace in practice, but when it matters – in qualifying and in the race – they simply fail to deliver. The Woking outfit will be hoping to reverse the trend with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez ending the session sixth and eighth respectively.

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg fourth fastest in FP3

Rookie Valtteri Bottas continues to impress at a venue where he has never raced before by setting the ninth best time, which was a quarter of second up on teammate Pastor Maldonado, who was 14th on the timing screens.

Rounding out the top ten was Adrian Sutil in the Force India, also making his first visit to the Austin race track, with teammate Paul di Resta 16th.

Evidence from the three Free Practice sessions suggests that qualifying will be all about Red Bull and whether anyone can contain their dominance. It seems unlikely they won’t be on pole, and quite likely they will occupy the entire front row.

Of the likely challengers for top spot on the grid, only Hamilton has an outside chance as only he seems to have the firepower to spoil the party for the World Champions.

Subbed by AJN.


Romain Grosjean fifth fastest in FP3

United States Grand Prix, Free Practice 3 – Saturday, 16 November 2013

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.733 14
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.936 0.203 20
3 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:37.064 0.331 22
4 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.272 0.539 20
5 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:37.345 0.612 20
6 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.534 0.801 18
7 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:37.578 0.845 24
8 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.583 0.850 19
9 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:37.747 1.014 17
10 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:37.748 1.015 21
11 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:37.763 1.030 16
12 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.774 1.041 18
13 7 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1:37.879 1.146 21
14 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:38.022 1.289 16
15 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:38.109 1.376 23
16 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:38.275 1.542 22
17 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:38.408 1.675 17
18 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:38.636 1.903 21
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:39.578 2.845 19
20 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:40.056 3.323 21
21 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:40.825 4.092 21
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:41.293 4.560 18
  • Nowhereman

    Tip my hat off to RB for being able to hide the obvious from the FIA.
    The rest of the teams are either stupid or incapable of this modification.

  • Mofombo

    Never let up.

  • bobw

    “but as if this is not enough they now seem intent in rubbing salt into the wounds of their rivals.” Another fine example of BS journalism. What do you expect Red Bull to do? Should they have stayed home? Volunteered for a reverse start?

    Nowhereman-Hide the obvious? Are you talking about the alien fusion drive they stole from Area 51?

  • SeattleF1Fan

    The “alien fusion drive that they stole from area 51″ is plugged into Vettels ass. They will never find it ;P

  • jose

    Methinks Red Bull is a bit to fast !!