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Malaysian GP: Vettel quickest in final Sepang practice

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Sepang 2013Sebastian Vettel highlighted his position as favourite for pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix by going quickest in final practice at Sepang.

The Red Bull driver posted the best time of the weekend with a lap of 1m36.435s near the end of the session, outpacing Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton by 0.133 seconds and the Force India of Adrian Sutil by less than two tenths.

Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber was fourth fastest in a very evenly-matched session, the Australian just 0.178s adrift.

Friday's pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen had to settle for fifth position after complaining about the handling of his Lotus.

Although all drivers jumped onto the track right at the start of the session, it was the Caterhams of Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde who set the early pace as the frontrunners took things easy.

Ten minutes in, Raikkonen moved to the top of the times as he posted a 1m38s lap, soon to be bettered by Mercedes's Nico Rosberg and minutes later by Sutil in the Force India, the German the first man to lap in the 1m37s bracket.

Rosberg returned to first post briefly before team-mate Hamilton outpaced him by over three tenths with a lap of 1m37.527s, still far from the pace set by Raikkonen on Friday.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa was the last man to complete a timed lap, the Brazilian not returning to the track until half the session was gone.

Rosberg fitted the medium tyres to move back into first position with the first lap in the 1m36s at the 32-minute mark as Webber and Vettel sat at the bottom of the times, the Red Bull duo still seemingly struggling with the durability of the tyres.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sepang 2013Hamilton's first run on mediums with 20 minutes to go proved to be the fastest lap of the weekend, improving on Raikkonen's best from Friday by 0.001s.

Webber left the bottom of the times moments later, using the medium tyres to finish 0.045s behind Hamilton.

Vettel, still slowest with 16 minutes of the session left, completed his first lap on mediums to move into sixth position.

Sutil jumped up to second place with less than 10 minutes remaining, finishing just 0.020s behind Hamilton.

With just over three minutes left, Vettel set a new benchmark in the medium tyre-shod Red Bull, the world champion's 1m36.435s putting him over a tenth ahead of his closest rival.

Except for a few off-track excursions, the session was incident-free.

Pos Driver                Team                  Time        Gap      Laps
 1. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m36.435              20
 2. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes              1m36.568s  + 0.133s   17
 3. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1m36.588s  + 0.153s   19
 4. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1m36.613s  + 0.178s   20
 5. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1m36.806s  + 0.371s   19
 6. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1m36.807s  + 0.372s   18
 7. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1m36.822s  + 0.387s   16
 8. Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1m36.946s  + 0.511s   14
 9. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1m36.949s  + 0.514s   24
10. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1m37.302s  + 0.867s   14
11. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1m37.359s  + 0.924s   11
12. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes      1m37.538s  + 1.103s   12
13. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari        1m37.685s  + 1.250s   23
14. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1m37.690s  + 1.255s   14
15. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault      1m37.936s  + 1.501s   16
16. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari        1m38.294s  + 1.859s   17
17. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m38.376s  + 1.941s   16
18. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m38.425s  + 1.990s   15
19. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault      1m38.995s  + 2.560s   18
20. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth     1m39.717s  + 3.282s   21
21. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault      1m40.209s  + 3.774s   18
22. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth     1m40.495s  + 4.060s   18

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