13 November 2010
Vettel tops final practice in Abu Dhabi
Sebastian Vettel heads his title rivals in Saturday morning practice at Yas Marina, but qualifying is set to remain a close-fought affair.
Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest time of the final Saturday practice session in 2010 but, with the four title contenders filling to top four spots on the timesheet, the German cannot expect to have things all his own way in qualifying or the race.
Having seen McLaren's Lewis Hamilton go fastest of all across Friday's two sessions, and threaten the main championship battle, Red Bull responded by putting Vettel and Mark Webber at the front of the field on Saturday morning, but both McLaren and Ferrari appeared to have pace in hand, with Fernando Alonso and Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button both looking likely to have gone faster in the closing moments of the hour-long session.
Vettel and Webber featured towards the top of the timesheets for much of the session, with the German - who needs more than just a win at Yas Marina to claim the title - eventually posting a 1min 40.696secs effort that put him a tenth clear of his team-mate. Hamilton was third fastest, but unable to match his Friday best of 1min 40.888secs after clocking a 1min 41.280secs mark that left him half a second shy of Vettel.
Alonso, meanwhile, was fourth overall on 1min 41.490secs after spending a lot of time cooling his heels in the pits, while Button wound up fifth, on 1min 41.578secs, despite twice showing best sector times through the opening two-thirds of the lap. He appeared poised to vault ahead of Vettel when a mistake in the final few corners pitched the McLaren into a twitch and off the road.
Vitaly Petrov was sixth fastest on what could be his last weekend as part of the Renault F1 line-up, ahead of Mercedes duo Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, with the second Renault of Robert Kubica in ninth. Nick Heidfeld rounded out the top ten for Sauber.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who could still play a vital role in Alonso's championship bid, was only twelfth fastest, mired between the Williams of Nico Hulkenberg and Rubens Barrichello, with Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and the Force Indias of Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi next up.
Toro Rosso appears to be most in danger of losing a car during the first phase of qualifying on Saturday afternoon, with Jaime Alguersuari three tenths ahead of team-mate Sebastien Buemi. There appears to be no danger of any of the newcomer teams overhauling those ahead of them, however, with Heikki Kovalainen quickest of the six drivers on 1min 44.876secs for Lotus. Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock, Bruno Senna, Lucas di Grassi and Christian Klien round out the times.
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