Japanese GP: Vettel leads Webber in final practice

Sebastian Vettel went quickest in final practice for the Japanese Grand Prix as he set the scene perfectly to try to secure his fourth consecutive pole position at Suzuka

Japanese GP: Vettel leads Webber in final practice

The German, a two-time winner in Japan, moved to the top of the times in the dying seconds, outpacing team-mate Mark Webber to secure a Red Bull one-two ahead of qualifying.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa was third quickest, albeit over half a second off Vettel's pace, with Michael Schumacher fourth in the Mercedes and Sergio Perez fifth in the Sauber ahead of team-mate Kamui Kobayashi.

The McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton wound up eighth and 13th respectively, but both men were hindered by traffic on their final flying laps. Championship leader Fernando Alonso was 11th fastest.

The day welcomed the drivers with a clear sky and high temperatures, the circuit reaching 36 degrees Celsius ahead of the start of the 60 minutes.

Nico Rosberg set the early benchmark seven minutes into the session with a lap of 1m43.4s, the German posting the first proper laptime on his next round with a 1m35.1s.

Team-mate Schumacher was the next man to complete a full lap, going quicker than Rosberg by nearly a second to take the top spot 10 minutes in.

Schumacher's time remained unbeaten for some 10 minutes before Pastor Maldonado became the first driver to lap in the 1m33s 20 minutes into the session.

Button moved to the top of the times just a minute after that in the McLaren, posting a 1m33.6s, but his time was bettered by 0.052 seconds an instant later by his team-mate Hamilton, despite the Briton locking up his front left tyre at the hairpin.

Hamilton stayed on top until Vettel completed his first flying lap, the Red Bull driver going quickest by over three tenths of a second when the session was about to reach the halfway point.

Nico Hulkenberg's day came to an early finish with 20 minutes to go after the German lost the rear of his car at the second Degner curve, crashing into the barriers and damaging the front wing and the front left corner.

It was the second accident for Force India this weekend after team-mate Paul di Resta damaged his car on Friday afternoon.

After the track was cleared, Schumacher was the first driver to try the soft Pirelli tyres to move into first place with 15 minutes left. Vettel improved his time moments later despite running on used, harder rubber, although it was not enough to relegate his compatriot.

Kimi Raikkonen, who had a troubled practice on Friday, seemed to have problems again this morning, the Finn not posting a time until the 45-minute mark as he struggled with his car's handling. He finished down in 12th.

With six minutes left, Button kicked off the final rush to try the softer rubber, the McLaren driver having to abort his first lap after finding a slow Schumacher at the 130R corner.

Hamilton was also unable to complete a proper flyer after a big scare when the Briton found Marussia's Charles Pic cruising ahead of the final chicane as he came flying out of 130R.

Webber did finish his lap a minute later to move into first with a lap of 1m32.371s, as Vettel went second quickest, also using the soft tyres, the German finding traffic on his lap.

Vettel went for another lap and outpaced his team-mate by 0.235s to secure the fastest time as the chequered flag dropped.

Apart from Hulkenberg, the man in the most trouble was HRT's Narain Karthikeyan, who damaged his car's new floor when going off track. He missed part of the session as the team worked on it.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m32.136 16 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m32.371s + 0.235 19 3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m32.824s + 0.688 12 4. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m32.918s + 0.782 22 5. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m32.920s + 0.784 18 6. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m32.924s + 0.788 14 7. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m33.008s + 0.872 20 8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m33.025s + 0.889 15 9. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m33.094s + 0.958 16 10. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m33.160s + 1.024 15 11. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m33.184s + 1.048 13 12. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m33.224s + 1.088 14 13. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m33.56$s + 1.433 13 14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m33.722s + 1.586 17 15. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m33.899s + 1.763 22 16. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m33.984s + 1.848 18 17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.023s + 1.887 18 18. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m34.369s + 2.233 11 19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m35.568s + 3.432 18 20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m36.355s + 4.219 17 21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m36.389s + 4.253 11 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m36.517s + 4.381 17 23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m36.649s + 4.513 11 24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m36.875s + 4.739 15 All Timing Unofficial 
shares
comments
Sauber believes driver line-up shake-up would not hurt team

Previous article

Sauber believes driver line-up shake-up would not hurt team

Next article

Pirelli says it will alter all tyre compounds for 2013 F1 season

Pirelli says it will alter all tyre compounds for 2013 F1 season
Load comments
The IndyCar feature that Paul Ricard desperately needs in F1 Plus

The IndyCar feature that Paul Ricard desperately needs in F1

OPINION: The French Grand Prix offered a surprisingly interesting spectacle, despite the headache-inducing nature of the circuit. But IndyCar's Road America race offered far more in terms of action - and the increased jeopardy at the Elkhart Lake venue might be something Paul Ricard needs in future...

French Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

French Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The French GP was a weekend decided by tiny margins both at the front of the field, as Red Bull inflicted a comeback defeat on Mercedes, and in the battle for the minor points places. That's reflected in our driver ratings, where several drivers came close to a maximum score

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2021
How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes Plus

How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes

The French GP has been a stronghold for Mercedes since Paul Ricard's return to the calendar in 2018. But that all changed on Sunday, as a clever two-stop strategy guided Red Bull's Max Verstappen to make a race-winning pass on the penultimate lap - for once leaving Mercedes to experience the pain of late defeat it has so often inflicted on Red Bull

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2021
The new age of sponsorship facilitated by F1’s relevancy push Plus

The new age of sponsorship facilitated by F1’s relevancy push

The age of the high-profile title sponsor is over, says JONATHAN NOBLE, but Formula 1’s commitment to technological innovation is attracting high-tech partners

Formula 1
Jun 20, 2021
How Britain’s lost Ferrari star epitomised a bygone F1 era Plus

How Britain’s lost Ferrari star epitomised a bygone F1 era

The 1956 Italian Grand Prix was over for Juan Manuel Fangio, along with his hopes of winning the world championship – until his Ferrari team-mate (and title rival) voluntarily surrendered his own car so Fangio could continue. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls Peter Collins, a remarkable sportsman

Formula 1
Jun 19, 2021
The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France Plus

The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Plus

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Plus

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021