22 September 2012
Vettel fastest again in final F1 practice
Sebastian Vettel maintained his dominance over Singapore Grand Prix practice with fastest time in Saturday's final session.
The was little change at the top of the timesheets in third and final practice for the Singapore Grand Prix, with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel once again ahead of the best of the McLarens and Ferraris.
Just as was the case in FP1 on Friday evening, the German had enough in hand to resist Lewis Hamilton, with Fernando Alonso repeating the third place he took in the second session under the lights later that night. The margin between the top two was three-tenths on this occasion, although Hamilton again made a slight mistake on his best run, suggesting that he make more of a challenge to his rival in qualifying. Alonso was a similar margin behind Hamilton, but was among several drivers frustrated by the red flag that brought the session to a premature end.
The final three minutes were written off after Vitaly Petrov hit the wall approaching turn 22, and again a second time for good measure, substantially damaging the right rear corner of his Caterham and then abandoning it in the pit-lane entry. Along with Alonso, both Mark Webber and Jenson Button had figured to improve their previous best time on a final supersoft-shod run, but had to call off the assault, leaving them eleventh and twelfth in the overall ranking. Webber had earlier had his own meeting with the 'wall', smacking the right rear of his Red Bull into the plastic barrier entering the tunnel, but somehow emerged with hardly any damage.
Behind Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg underlined his pre-race belief that Sahara Force India could enjoy better fortune in Singapore than at either Monza or Spa by putting his VJM05 into fourth spot, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who boosted Lotus morale after a lacklustre Friday. Felipe Massa also appeared higher in the order than he did on day one, taking sixth in front of Paul di Resta, Nico Rosberg, Bruno Senna and Michael Schumacher.
Sauber's Sergio Perez, who finished second in Italy a fortnight ago, could only manage 18th in the session after joining Webber and Petrov in hitting the wall. Again, the Mexican was back on track at the very end, but unable to improve. His mishap therefore left him behind the Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, who book-ended a group comprising Kamui Kobayashi, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado.
Timo Glock's good work on Friday, where he twice out-paced the Caterhams to give Marussia the belief that it may have caught its closest rival, came to an abrupt halt with a suspected sticking throttle that caused him to park up on the circuit after turn 20. However, team-mate Charles Pic took up the mantle for Banbury's finest, lapping 1.5secs faster than either Petrov or Heikki Kovalainen could manage, with HRT's Narain Karthikeyan also getting close to the Finn as he took 22nd overall, ahead of Glock and team-mate Pedro de la Rosa, who will start the race from the vary back - assuming he hadn't qualified there already - after taking a new gearbox.
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