In a change from yesterday, Lewis Hamilton ran quickest in this morning’s 3rd Free Practice session in Sepang.
Like many of the runners, the McLaren driver set his fastest runs in the final moments of practice, as they pushed their soft Pirelli tyres to the limit in qualifying simulations.
Hamilton had an eleven lap session, during which the 2008 World Champion notched a best lap of 1:36.340.
Mark Webber lined up three-tenths shy of Hamilton in his Red Bull RB7 following his 16 lap run, although the Australian spent much of the session of the harder compound Pirelli rubber.
Jenson Button made it two McLaren’s in the top-three, with Nick Heidfeld (Renault) registering the 4th best time.
Webber’s Red Bull teammate, Sebastian Vettel finished 5th – his best of was a 1:37.175; however the previous two sessions showed that there should well be a lot more pace in the Renault-powered machine.
Fernando Alonso (6th, Ferrari) and Vitaly Petrov (7th, Renault) found themselves one-tenth shy of Vettel, while still maintaining a half-second gap over Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari.
With Ferrari apparently lacking confidence in the performance of the 150º Italia, this so far does not look like a weekend to boost morale at the Scuderia.
Both Mercedes’ easily logged the busiest session with both Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg completing twenty laps apiece. Schumacher headed the pair in 10th, with Rosberg in 11th only 0.007 shy of the veteran.
Force India’s Paul di Resta had something of a nightmare session. The young Scot suffered throughout third practice from dire rear end tyre wear / grip, causing the reigning DTM Champion to spin on several occasions.
Both Hispania’s made it on track, but finished dead last and they suffered somewhat from a further lack of running. Vitantonio Liuzzi was the quicker of the pair, although the pair finished the session outside the 107% cut off point.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.340s 11 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.630s + 0.290s 16 3. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.762s + 0.422s 14 4. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m37.115s + 0.775s 17 5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m37.175s + 0.835s 14 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.284s + 0.944s 11 7. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m37.297s + 0.957s 17 8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m37.762s + 1.422s 12 9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.059s + 1.719s 18 10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m38.300s + 1.960s 20 11. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m38.307s + 1.967s 20 12. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.448s + 2.108s 17 13. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m38.464s + 2.124s 16 14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m38.597s + 2.257s 15 15. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.665s + 2.325s 14 16. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m38.681s + 2.341s 16 17. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.716s + 2.376s 14 18. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m38.864s + 2.524s 13 19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m39.260s + 2.920s 19 20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m39.699s + 3.359s 15 21. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m41.215s + 4.875s 17 22. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m41.414s + 5.074s 18 23. Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m43.147s + 6.807s 6 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m43.383s + 7.043s 11