Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel bounced back from a difficult Friday to claim the top spot in Saturday morning practice in Istanbul.
The reigning World Champion recorded a quickest lap of 1:26.037 at the tail end of the session – just 0.001 of-a-second ahead of Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher.
Vettel may well have much faster had he not been blocked by Hispania’s Vitantonio Liuzzi in the final corner.
The German pilot also suffered from KERS overheating problems during the sixty-minute practice.
Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg made it a Red Bull / Mercedes affair in 3rd and 4th too, albeit three-tenths down on their respective teammates. On what is a challenging aero circuit, Red Bull do appear to stretching their legs somewhat; however Mercedes have also displayed touches of pace so far this weekend.
The McLaren pairing of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton recorded the 5th and 6th best times respectively.
Behind the silver cars lay Vitaly Petrov (Renault) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), but where the Renault man had a trouble-free practice, Alonso’s was mired in more hydraulic problems.
Indeed, with ten minutes left, the Spaniard’s car lost power in the pits, requiring a push back to his garage. It paints a worrying picture for a team that have had a tough weekend already.
Jaime Alguersuari (17th) did not have inspiring Saturday. As his teammate, Sebastien Buemi (10th), outpaced him in the final practice session by six-tenths, the Toro Rosso man lost a large chunk of practice, thanks to a spin in the middle of the turn 3-6 sweeps.
Lotus were again the quickest of the “new-ish” teams, although their Saturday got off to a worrying start as one of their three trucks had an electrical fire in the paddock.
Both Heikki Kovalainen (19th) and Jarno Trulli (20th) soothed the team somewhat by running around two seconds per lap quicker than Virgin’s Jerome d’Ambrosio and Timo Glock, although the Lotus’ were still nearly three seconds off of Vettel’s pace.
Unfortunately for the Virgin team, they had to remove their new exhaust system due to reliability issues – a massive blow for the team.