F1 Valencia FP3 Results & Report: Vettel Fastest in Final Practice


What Happens When I Oversleep & Miss 3/4 of Practice

6:21am EST — Sebastian Vettel (1:37.258) became the fastest man of the 2011 European Grand Prix weekend with his fast time near the end of the final practice on Saturday. He led Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Mark Webber, and Jenson Button as the fastest five in a slow-starting session. Though the dusty track took time to lure the drivers out of their garages, the final fifteen minutes had plenty of excitement as drivers posted quick times on the softer tire. There were no major incidents, though Kamui Kobayashi did slide sideways into the pit entry, brushing the nose of his Sauber gently along the wall. The car was otherwise undamaged.

Webber (1:40.403) was the fastest driver in the dusty Friday morning session on the streets of Valencia, leading Petrov, Alonso, Hamilton, and Heidfeld as the fastest five while teammate Vettel was well down the order in seventeenth. Only Nico Hulkenberg had a major incident in the session, losing control under breaking and sliding his Force India down the wall. He damaged the left side suspension severely enough that full-time driver Paul di Resta was unable to complete more than ten minutes of running in the afternoon session.

Alonso (1:37.968) took his turn at the top of the timesheets in the second practice session of the weekend, posting the fastest time and the only lap in the 1:37s range. Hamilton, Vettel, Schumacher, Massa, Button, Webber, and Rosberg were the fastest eight. For the afternoon there were no incidents, only drivers who continued to slide about on the green circuit. Alguersuari posted no time with technical issues plaguing his Toro Rosso.

Alguersuari was the first driver onto the track for the final hour of practice before qualifying later in the day. There was a mad dash to follow him for installation laps. Afterwards, most teams and drivers appeared quite content to be sitting in the garage and waiting for another team to clear the dust off the circuit.

No one had yet set a time when a quarter of the session’s time had elapsed. Minutes later, D’Ambrosio (1:46.910) was the first to do so, only to lose his position to Trulli. Soon, much of the mid-field was out and setting times on the harder tire. di Resta (1:42.678) was fastest with about twenty minutes gone, with Buemi and Alguersuari slotting into second and third. Then Maldonado went second fastest.

The frontrunners began completing laps, with Schumacher going eighth fastest, then Alonso eleventh despite quick first sectors. The German moved up to second, then with thirty-five minutes remaining Alonso (1:39.743) took the top spot. More times were posted as the drivers continued to improve.

At the halfway point, the Red Bull drivers were only just joining the fray. Vettel’s first lap put him fifth fastest; Webber’s third behind Alonso and Button. The Briton attempted to beat Alonso’s time, but only improved his own to 1:39.529. Soon, though, Vettel (1:38.999) was fastest, leading Alonso, Button, Webber, and Massa the top five.

Perez was one of the first drivers to go for the softer tire compound, going fifth fastest. Schumacher also had the softer tire and went second fastest, from tenth. Soon thereafter, Rosberg (1:38.580) was fastest of all on his set of softer tires, beginning a rush of faster times.

With fifteen minutes to go, the times came more quickly on the softer tires. Rosberg (1:38.580) led Vettel, Schumacher, Webber, Alonso, Button, Sutil, Perez, Kobayashi, and Buemi as the top ten while Massa was eleventh and Hamilton fourteenth. Moments later, Massa (1:38.277) completed a fast lap to go to the top. He was next eclipsed by Alonso, by six tenths. At that point, only the Ferraris, Lotus cars, and Renaults were on track, with just over ten minutes remaining.

More drivers were out with five minutes remaining, as Vettel (1:37.258) took fastest from Alonso and posted the fastest time to that point of the weekend. Webber had also improved to fourth, while Hamilton finally drug himself out of seventeenth to go seventh fastest. As the seconds ticked down, some drivers aborted their final laps. At the very end, Kobayashi slid dramatically sideways into the pit entry, barely brushing the nose of his Sauber into the wall. The session ended with Vettel on top, leading Alonso, Massa, Webber, and Button.

Final Times for FP3, 2011 European Grand Prix:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:37.258 15
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:37.678 +0.420 16
3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:37.840 +0.582 17
4. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:38.068 +0.810 13
5. Jenson Button McLaren 1:38.326 +1.068 13
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:38.580 +1.322 15
7. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:38.741 +1.483 13
8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:38.799 +1.541 14
9. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:38.822 +1.564 17
10. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:39.113 +1.855 15
11. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:39.411 +2.153 19
12. Sergio Perez Sauber 1:39.778 +2.520 18
13. Paul di Resta Force India 1:39.823 +2.565 18
14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:39.848 +2.590 18
15. Sebatien Buemi Toro Rosso 1:39.888 +2.630 17
16. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:39.987 +2.729 18
17. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:40.004 +2.746 16
18. Jaime Alguesuari Toro Rosso 1:40.239 +2.981 20
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:41.267 +4.009 15
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1:41.690 +4.432 18
21. Timio Glock Virgin Racing 1:42.557 +5.299 18
22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1:43.243 +5.985 17
23. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin Racing 1:43.309 +6.051 18
24. Narian Karthikeyan HRT 1:44.630 +7.372 19
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