Sebastian Vettel topped the third and final free practice session in China on Saturday morning.
The reigning champion planted his Red Bull on top of the pile, despite having little use of his KERS unit.
During the session Vettel ran 13 lap, with a best of 1:34.968 – some two-tenths quicker than McLaren’s Jenson Button in 2nd.
Lewis Hamilton made it a trio of champions at the head of the pile. The McLaren pilot set his best lap at the tail end of the session; however an off course excursion took the best from his Pirelli rubber leaving the Briton unable to challenge harder.
Nico Rosberg pipped Ferrari’s Felipe Massa (5th) and Fernando Alonso (6th) in the time sheets. Rosberg’s veteran teammate Michael Schumacher could only manage a best of 9th, sandwiched by the Force India duo of Adrian Sutil (8th) and Paul di Resta (10th).
Fronting the Renault charge was Vitaly Petrov in 7th. The Russian completed 18 laps with a best of 1:36.098 – just over tree-tenths quicker than teammate Nick Heidfeld. Admittedly, Heidfeld was the cause of his own woes – his two Friday accidents meant the German had to revert back to the old specification front wing on his R31.
Following a less than successful test on Friday, Sauber reverted to their original exhaust system; the new design caused burn issues around the suspension. Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez finished 12th and 13th respectively, some 1.6 seconds off of Vettel’s pace.
If Sauber had reason to be disappointed, then Mark Webber was truly disgusted. The Red Bull driver only registered five laps as problems with the electrics and his KERS unit severely hampered his session, leaving the Australian in 16th spot.
Near the back of the pile, Jerome d’Ambrosio’s indifferent start to his Formula 1 career continued. The Belgian ran wide at turn 13, wrecking his front wing over the jagged kerbs.
D’Ambrosio finished the morning in the pitlane with the 22nd best time.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m34.968s 13 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m35.176s + 0.208s 15 3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m35.373s + 0.405s 14 4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m35.677s + 0.709s 18 5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m35.818s + 0.850s 17 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m35.971s + 1.003s 15 7. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m36.098s + 1.130s 18 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m36.125s + 1.157s 15 9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m36.141s + 1.173s 14 10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m36.370s + 1.402s 18 11. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m36.404s + 1.436s 16 12. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.582s + 1.614s 18 13. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.596s + 1.628s 17 14. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m36.717s + 1.749s 16 15. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.896s + 1.928s 5 16. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m36.953s + 1.985s 14 17. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m37.007s + 2.039s 20 18. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m37.304s + 2.336s 18 19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m38.176s + 3.208s 12 20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m38.739s + 3.771s 12 21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m39.938s + 4.970s 17 22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m39.998s + 5.030s 16 23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m40.593s + 5.625s 17 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m40.881s + 5.913s 18