Practice 3: Vettel in another league quickest by half a second
13 October, 2012
Oct.13 (Apex) Sebastian Vettel was simply in another league as he ended the third and final free practice session of the Korean Grand Prix a massive half second up on his closest rival, as Red Bull look to maintain their winning run at Yeongam.
It was an ominous display by Vettel, only a couple of hours before qualifying, and a mere six days since his dominant display in Japan where the team’s RB8 made a big jump in performance relative to rivals Ferrari and McLaren. His time of 1 minute 37.642 seconds was over a second faster than the previous day’s best.
Chasing the world champion were the pair of McLaren drivers with Lewis Hamilton claiming the second best time and Jenson Button third fastest.
Also showing strong pace with the Coanda exhaust system was the Lotus E20, which Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen used to good effect to claim fourth and fifth respectively.
Championship leader Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari was over a second down from Vettel, his closest challenger in the title race, with the sixth best time.
Felipe Massa was eighth fastest in the Ferrari, not far off his teammate’s pace, with Pastor Maldonado eighth and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg tenth.
Although practice sessions tend to be meaningless in terms of determining race pace and the like, but in this instance with the title race as close as ever Vettel’s advantage is an ominous sign and making maximum use of it ahead of qualifying is a master-stroke in the psychological battle.
It is clear that Red Bull have made a big lead ahead in the development battle, but they are being chased hard by McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus – all with major pedigrees at the highest level – all with world champions in their cockpits. An intriguing afternoon in Korea lies ahead.
Subbed by AJN.
Free Practice, Korean Grand Prix – Saturday, 12 October 2012
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:37.642||17|
|7||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:38.766||1.124||7|
|10||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:38.932||1.290||17|
|14||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:39.156||1.514||18|
|24||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:42.882||5.240||14|