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2011 Spanish Grand Prix (Rd 5, Free Practice 3, May 21st)

May 21, 2011

© Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

Sebastian Vettel headed the third session at Barcelona this morning, with Red Bull teammate Mark Webber in tow.

The reigning champion only went with one run at the end of the session, only claiming the top spot in the dying moments.
Vettel’s quickest tour of 1:21.707, toppled Webber by a mere eight-hundredths of a second, a sign of may come in the later qualifying session.

Webber spent much of the practice swapping fast laps with Mercedes Michael Schumacher, before the Australian spread his wings late on.
Schumacher held on to 3rd spot in the end, albeit 1.35 seconds shy of the ultimate pace. It was the first time this weekend that Schumacher came home ahead of his fellow Mercedes runner, Nico Rosberg. The former Williams driver ran a solid 17 laps, registering a best of 1:23.397, leaving Rosberg 6th on the sheets.

In between the Mercedes duo were a pair of McLaren’s, led by Lewis Hamilton. Both of the silver-and-red machines took new gearboxes overnight – Hamilton and Jenson Button ran 13 and 14 laps respectively.

Ferrari also had to make some overnight changes, although these were enforced by the FIA. Following a complaint from a competitor, it was found their new spec rear wing was illegal, leaving the team to revert to the wing used up until the Turkish Grand Prix.
It is thought the new wing may have given their DRS a vast improvement, but shy of the revamped aero device, the red pair took 9th (Fernando Alonso) and 11th (Felipe Massa).

There was also plenty of work at Williams, as they removed the new floor, having felt the FW33 was worse off. With old parts re-instated, Rubens Barrichello split the Ferrari’s with a best of 1:24.318, while rookie teammate was three position further down, less than one-tenth slower.

The bottom of the pack revealed tales of woe for both Nick Heidfeld (Renault) and Narain Karthikeyan (Hispania).
Karthikeyan lost out during practice, thanks to a malfunctioning DRS, rendering him slowest, 7.85 seconds slower than Vettel; however Heidfeld’s problems were far more dramatic.
The Renault driver pulled off prior to turn nine, with the rear of his machine engulfed in flames. At this stage, it is unclear what started the fire, but it though a fuel overfill may have ignited, setting the machine ablaze.

Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps
 1.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1m21.707s            6
 2.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1m21.791s  + 0.084s  17
 3.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1m23.057s  + 1.350s  16
 4.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      1m23.068s  + 1.361s  13
 5.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      1m23.214s  + 1.507s  14
 6.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1m23.397s  + 1.690s  18
 7.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1m23.669s  + 1.962s  17
 8.  Vitaly Petrov       Renault               1m24.043s  + 2.336s  18
 9.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1m24.270s  + 2.563s  11
10.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams-Cosworth     1m24.318s  + 2.611s  18
11.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               1m24.322s  + 2.615s  17
12.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        1m24.329s  + 2.622s  19
13.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Cosworth     1m24.399s  + 2.692s  17
14.  Sebastien Buemi     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m24.535s  + 2.828s  16
15.  Adrian Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  1m24.695s  + 2.988s  18
16.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m24.722s  + 3.015s  14
17.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  1m25.223s  + 3.516s  19
18.  Heikki Kovalainen   Lotus-Renault         1m26.236s  + 4.529s  11
19.  Jarno Trulli        Lotus-Renault         1m27.000s  + 5.293s  20
20.  Timo Glock          Virgin-Cosworth       1m27.706s  + 5.999s  20
21.  Tonio Liuzzi        HRT-Cosworth          1m28.330s  + 6.623s  17
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio   Virgin-Cosworth       1m29.057s  + 7.350s  18
23.  Nick Heidfeld       Renault               1m29.200s  + 7.493s  6
24.  Narain Karthikeyan  HRT-Cosworth          1m29.562s  + 7.855s  16
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