Vettel sets the pace ahead of qualifying

© Ubaid Parkar, 5 October 2012
© AP Photo/Greg Baker

Sebastian Vettel led Red Bull teammate Mark Webber on the top of the time sheets in the third and final practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday, indicating strong chances for the team to secure pole position.

The German, who has claimed pole at Suzuka in the last three years, set a time of 1 minute 32.136 and was two-tenths quicker than his nearest rival, ahead of qualifying later in the day.

Championship leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was 11th, more than a second slower than Vettel’s time, while McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton faced heavy traffic late in the session and had to settle for 13th.

Hamilton had to back off on one of his laps after he found a very slow moving Marussia of Charles Pic on the approach to the Casio Triangle.

"I want Charlie (Whiting – race director) to know how dangerous that last corner was" Hamilton complained to his team over the radio about the incident.

McLaren teammate Jenson Button also experienced traffic and wound up eighth. Button won last year's race in Japan.

Ferrari driver Felipe Massa was third, 0.688 second off the leading pace, ahead of Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher.

The Sauber duo of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi then followed, with Lotus’ Romain Grosjean in seventh. Ninth was Force India driver Paul di Resta with Williams’ Pastor Maldonado rounding up the top ten.

Kimi Raikkonen struggled with set up and balance throughout the 60-minute run and ended up only 12th on the list.

Nico Hulkenberg crashed at the second Degner curve and spun sideways into a barrier, damaging the front wing of his car.

Apart from Hulkenberg, Narain Karthikeyan damaged his HRT going off track and missed part of the session as the team worked to repair damage.

 

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