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Chinese GP: Alonso keeps Ferrari on top in FP3

Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa kept Ferrari on top of the times in the final practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix

The Spaniard's best lap of 1m35.391s was still slower than the benchmark set by Massa in second practice on Friday. The Brazilian was second quickest on Saturday morning, over six tenths behind his team-mate.

Lewis Hamilton finished third for Mercedes as team-mate Nico Rosberg had to settle for 14th position after being unable to set a time with the soft Pirelli tyres.

World champion Sebastian Vettel outpaced Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber for the first time this weekend to finish in fourth position, right ahead of the Australian, who completed the top five.

Force India's Adrian Sutil was sixth ahead of the first Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren's Jenson Button and Sergio Perez and the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg, who rounded up the top 10.

Caterham's Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde were the first men to appear in the timesheets, the duo the only men to post a timed lap in the first 10 minutes of the session.

Perez jumped to the top of the times nearly 20 minutes in, becoming the first driver from a top team to set a time. He was promptly outpaced by Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, the Frenchman relegated by team-mate Raikkonen just moments later.

With a quarter of final practice gone, it was FP1 pacesetter Rosberg who moved to the top with the first 1m37s lap of the hour-long session. Team-mate Hamilton bettered his time three minutes later as Vettel went second quickest behind the Briton, both men still far from the leading times from Friday.

Hamilton was first to move into the 1m36s at the half-hour mark, while Rosberg put the other Mercedes in second position ahead of Vettel.

Ferrari drivers Alonso and Massa waited until the second half of the session to complete their first timed laps, the Spaniard moving to fifth spot 28 minutes in with used medium tyres. Friday pacesetter Massa went sixth quickest with his first attempt seconds later.

The soft tyres made their appearance with less than 20 minutes left, with Rosberg and Raikkonen the first of the frontrunners to try the yellow-marked rubber.

The German, however, aborted his first attempt and complained about excessive bottoming, returning to the pits without setting a time. His mechanics started working on the car immediately and he would not return to the track.

Team-mate Hamilton also slowed down right after posting the quickest time in the first sector, also using soft tyres, but the Briton continued for another run.

Although his first sector was not as strong as before, Hamilton posted the best time of the session with a lap of 1m36.065s which put him over a second clear of the rest of the field at the time.

With most teams eager to save their soft tyres, the action was sparse as the session reached the final 10 minutes. Raikkonen jumped to second with eight minutes to go, but the Finn was still over half a second off Hamilton's pace. He was soon outpaced by Sutil, but the Mercedes driver's time was still out of reach.

Most drivers finally jumped onto the circuit with five minutes left, Alonso setting the fastest time of the day with a 1m35.391s, still slower than Massa's best from Friday. The Brazilian moved to second ahead of Hamilton.


Pos Driver                Team                  Time       Gap      Laps
 1. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1m35.391s            13
 2. Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1m36.013s  + 0.622s  11
 3. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes              1m36.065s  + 0.674s  18
 4. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m36.286s  + 0.895s  17
 5. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1m36.420s  + 1.029s  15
 6. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1m36.549s  + 1.158s  16
 7. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1m36.605s  + 1.214s  16
 8. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1m36.693s  + 1.302s  16
 9. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes      1m36.777s  + 1.386s  16
10. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari        1m36.853s  + 1.462s  15
11. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m37.072s  + 1.681s  15
12. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m37.205s  + 1.814s  18
13. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1m37.300s  + 1.909s  11
14. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1m37.349s  + 1.958s  12
15. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault      1m37.457s  + 2.066s  16
16. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1m37.487s  + 2.096s  13
17. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari        1m37.740s  + 2.349s  20
18. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1m37.813s  + 2.422s  16
19. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth     1m38.496s  + 3.105s  17
20. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault      1m38.821s  + 3.430s  18
21. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth     1m39.627s  + 4.236s  16
22. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault      1m39.652s  + 4.261s  18

AUTOSPORT Chinese GP coverage:

FP1 FP2 FP3 Qualifying Race Gallery Live commentary Official quotes

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