F1 Silverstone FP3 Results & Report: Vettel Fastest of All in Only Dry Session

What Happens When Everything’s Back to Normal

6:17am EST — Sebastian Vettel (1:31.401) was quickest in Saturday morning’s final practice for the 2011 British Grand Prix, beating out Fernando Alonso with a lap time just six hundredths quicker. It was the only generally dry practice of the race weekend, despite some drizzle during the hour-long session and featured occasionally unexpected leaders. At the end, it was generally the usual suspects in the fastest ten, with Webber, Massa, Maldonado, Button, Kobayashi, Rosberg, Perez, and di Resta. Hamilton was a surprisingly slow thirteenth fastest while Schumacher was eleventh without the rain to equalize the cars.

Webber posted the fastest time of Friday’s practices during the damp morning session, as the afternoon was disrupted by heavy rain. The morning did feature wet conditions, but not to the extent of the British summer afternoon. In the morning, Schumacher, Barrichello, Perez, and Massa were the fastest five behind Webber, with Alonso (7th), Hamilton (8th), Vettel (13th), and Button (15th) farther down the order.

Though Kobayashi’s Sauber was the only casualty from the wet first session, after the Japanese driver lost control on wet kerbing and fake grass, the team got him out fifteen minutes into the very wet afternoon session. He was one of the few drivers to set even an installation lap in the first half of the session, as times did not really begin to be set until the final half hour. Though Webber led Alonso with five minutes to go, it was Massa who ended the session on top, with Rosberg, Kobayashi, Hamilton, and Button the top five. Webber and Alonso were forced down to fourteenth and fifteenth, respectively. Vettel, who ended his session a few minutes earlier and a bit slower, ended up eighteenth.

Despite clouds in the sky, conditions were comparatively quite dry for the final sixty-minute practice session Saturday morning at Silverstone. There was a rush for drivers to get out into the dry running, as all but Schumacher were out for an installation lap in the first five minutes of the session. However, all returned to the garage straightaway and set no immediate times. Soon, only Schumacher was out on the circuit with around ten minutes gone in the session. He did not set a complete timed lap, returning to the garage as D’Ambrosio, Trulli, Kovalainen, Maldonado, Perez, and Barrichello returned to the track.

Alguersuari (1:38.936) set the first time, thirteen minutes into the session, soon followed by D’Ambrosio and Trulli. However, Kovalainen had radioed in that it had begun to rain. Perez quickly took the lead, only to be displaced by Schumacher (1:36.228) by a margin of more than two seconds. Alguersuari slotted into second moments later, eight tenths off the German’s early pace.

After fifteen minutes of the session had expired, Schumacher, who had just spun, led Alguersuari, Kobayashi, Heidfeld, Perez, Kovalainen, Maldonado, di Resta, Trulli, and Barrichello as the top ten, though the order would not remain for long. Button went fifth fastest with Webber just a tenth slower on their first timed laps. The Australian quickly moved up to second fastest, only to lose position to Kobayashi, then take fastest of all from Schumacher. Kobayashi also went faster to take second from the German. Webber’s time at that point was a weekend-fastest 1:34.699.

Even with the light rain, most drivers were on the track as the halfway point of the session approached. Alonso’s first timed lap put him thirteenth, in comparison to Massa who was already fourth fastest and not quite a tenth faster than Button in fifth. When comparing teammates, none were farther apart than Webber and Vettel, with the former leading and the latter yet to set a time.

Soon, only Hamilton was on track in the increasing rainfall with thirty-five minutes to go. Webber led Kobayashi, Schumacher, Massa, Button, Rosberg, Alguersuari, Sutil, Perez, and Buemi as the top ten, with Alonso thirteenth and no times from Liuzzi, Hamilton, or Vettel. The Briton soon returned to the garage as well.

Kobayashi was back out with a half hour remaining, soon joined by Rosberg, Alguersuari, and Buemi. Alguersuari was faster than Webber by a tenth as the sun shined and the track dried out after its previous dampening. However, Rosberg (1:33.044) soon posted a lap a second and a half quicker than the young Spaniard. Petrov next went second fastest, while Vettel’s first time put him thirteenth fastest. Alonso had already moved up to sixth. Perez also slid into second as the times continued to change, with Massa taking third fastest, only to be displaced first by Petrov, then his own teammate.

Hamilton’s first time, moments later, was seventeenth fastest while Vettel moved up to fifth on his next lap, then fourth on his next. Rosberg still led with twenty minutes remaining, as Alonso, Perez, Vettel, di Resta, Sutil, Massa, Petrov, Alguersuari, and Webber completed the fastest ten. Button, Schumacher, and Hamilton were fifteenth through seventeenth as times continued to drop.

Drivers continued to trade fastest sector times as the final quarter of the session approached, with Alonso (1:32.843) going quickest of all when seventeen minutes remained. Kobayashi was also quick, taking second with fifteen minutes to go. Many drivers were back in the box for final adjustments in dry set-up as team principals finally returned to pit lane following a review of the continued new adjustments to the no on-throttle diffuser rule.

As the minutes ticked down, Massa was back out on the soft tires. He did not improve on the first lap, leaving Maldonado (1:32.496) to take the fastest time away from Alonso. Button next went third as Alonso improved his own time to 1:31.464.

Despite the soft tires, times were not as frantic as often happens at the end of the final practice, as this session was the only one with dry running and testing race setup was necessary. Alonso led Webber, Maldonado, Button, Kobayashi, Rosberg, Perez, di Resta, Vettel, and Massa as the top ten with five minutes to go, with Hamilton twelfth and Schumacher nineteenth. Vettel, though, soon took Alonso’s position by just six hundredths as traffic increased in the final moments of running before qualifying. Despite pushing very hard, Alonso was unable to take the fastest lap away from Vettel.

Final Times for FP3, 2011 British Grand Prix:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:31.401 17
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:31.464 +0.063 20
3. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:31.829 +0.428 12
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:32.169 +0.768 20
5. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:32.496 +1.095 20
6. Jenson Button McLaren 1:32.956 +1.555 18
7. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:33.014 +1.613 20
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:33.044 +1.643 23
9. Sergio Perez Sauber 1:33.264 +1.863 21
10. Paul di Resta Force India 1:33.423 +2.022 22
11. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:33.551 +2.150 11
12. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:33.660 +2.259 22
13. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:33.842 +2.441 16
14. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:33.905 +2.504 21
15. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:34.042 +2.641 22
16. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:34.329 +2.928 20
17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1:34.799 +3.398 20
18. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:34.822 +3.421 21
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:35.225 +3.824 21
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1:36.905 +5.504 21
21. Timo Glock Virgin Racing 1:37.614 +6.213 18
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin Racing 1:38.068 +6.667 20
23. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1:38.289 +6.888 19
24. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1:38.568 +7.167 17

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