Mark Webber was quickest in the final practice session prior to the Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay.
The Red Bull pilot registered a best of 1:46.081 near the end of his fifteen laps – a time that proved to be narrowly faster than Jenson Button in the silver and red McLaren.
Button completed two extra laps than Webber during his sixty-minute jaunt. It was a necessity – problems during Friday running (for both the circuit and Button) limited track time for the McLaren pilot, aiding the Red Bull advantage early on.
Sebastian Vettel unsurprisingly made it both Red Bull’s in the top three. The reigning champion made the best of his RB7 during a four-lap stint near the tail end of practice, ending the evening a quarter-of-a-second down on Webber.
The leading Ferrari of Fernando Alonso was less than a tenth shy of Vettel, although the team spent a portion of the session completing urgent set-up changes for the Spaniard. He would complete only fourteen circulations of the Marina Bay circuit.
Lewis Hamilton spent third practice making up lost ground. He, too, lost time on Friday as his McLaren MP4-26 underwent vital work, although Hamilton’s quickest lap (1:46.936) left the former champion nearly a second off the leading pace.
Nico Rosberg led the best of the rest in his turquoise Mercedes. The German pilot pipped his veteran teammate, Michael Schumacher, to 6th by a mere 0.006 of-a-second.
Schumacher lost a chunk of time due to a KERS problem, but not before the seven-time champion was badly balked by Pastor Maldonado (Williams) during a fast run.
This was not long before both Williams drivers (including Rubens Barrichello) ventured out on the super-soft Pirelli tyres – the first of the teams to do so. Although quick for a time, the Didcot-based team slid depressingly down the order as the session aged.
Come the chequered flag, Maldonado collected 14th place – 3.7 seconds off of Webber – pipping his vastly more experienced teammate by four-tenths and a single position.
Renault were next up as their nightmare weekend lurches on. With issues concerning an ill-fitting aerodynamic balance, their cars slid to 16th and 17th respectively, headed by Vitaly Petrov.
Indeed, Renault had spent a deal of time working prior to the session to refit previous layers bodywork. Cooling problems had halted Petrov’s progress on Friday – persistent issues led to the upgrade being rescinded until Japan.
Marina Bay saw some progress during the break between Friday and Saturday. The kerbs that had been so troublesome during opening practice, had either been moved further toward the wall or removed altogether.
As expected, Saturday’s opening session ran with no problems.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m46.081s 15 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m46.108s + 0.027 17 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m46.345s + 0.264 14 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m46.396s + 0.315 14 5. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m46.936s + 0.855 20 6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m47.831s + 1.750 14 7. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m47.837s + 1.756 12 8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m48.711s + 2.630 12 9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m49.057s + 2.976 15 10. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m49.304s + 3.223 16 11. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m49.583s + 3.502 17 12. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m49.679s + 3.598 18 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m49.816s + 3.735 18 14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m49.851s + 3.770 17 15. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m50.189s + 4.108 15 16. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m50.229s + 4.148 15 17. Bruno Senna Renault 1m50.523s + 4.442 14 18. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m50.547s + 4.466 17 19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m52.510s + 6.429 17 20. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m52.697s + 6.616 19 21. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m53.728s + 7.647 17 22. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m53.823s + 7.742 18 23. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m53.829s + 7.748 16 24. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m55.203s + 9.122 17