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Ahead of the final free practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix, the air temperature is 24 degrees C, while the track temperature is 35 degrees. It is bright and sunny but there remains a strong breeze.
Mark Webber was quickest in yesterday's second session when the soft (option) tyres finally made an appearance, with Jenson Button leading a McLaren 1-2 in the opening session.
Nico Rosberg suffered a problem which necessitated an engine change ahead of the second session, while there were crashes for Paul di Resta and Michael Schumacher who both went into the barriers at Spoon.
As ever, Fernando Alonso was up there, despite the failings of Ferrari's windtunnel, as were Sebastian Vettel, Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna.
The resurfacing of the majority of the track has caught a number of drivers out, with lock-ups, tyre blistering and excursions aplenty.
There was also a very scary moment for Petrov when his rear wing fell from his car going into Turn 1, had it happened at 130R one would want to think of the possible consequences.
When the lights go green, Raikkonen is ready and waiting at the end of the pitlane, followed by Kovalainen, Grosjean, Vergne, di Resta, Pic, Karthikeyan and Ricciardo. Webber is among the early risers.
Within a couple of minutes all but Schumacher have been out, only Rosberg staying out for a second lap. Indeed, the German carries on to post the first time of the day (1:35.169) before being joined by his teammate.
On his first flying lap Schumacher posts 34.234, as Raikkonen and Karthikeyan leave the pits,
As Schumacher improves to 34.008, Karthikeyan goes third with a 37.572. Elsewhere, as more drivers take to the track, Grosjean goes quickest in S1. The Frenchman subsequently posts a 34.098.
Karthikeyan goes off at Turn 9 but is able to continue, as Button goes second ahead of Webber, Senna and Perez.
Today, a number of drivers are having problems at the chicane, Schumacher amongst them.
Maldonado goes straight to the top of the timesheets with a 33.999 as Hamilton goes fourth (34.217). A hairy moment for Rosberg, who dips a toe in the dust on the outside at Spoon.
All running on the hard (prime) tyre thus far.
Having gone quickest in S3, Button posts 33.621 to go quickest. Webber improves to second with a 33.929.
No 'purples' but Hamilton goes quickest nonetheless, the McLaren driver crossing the line at 33.569.
Approaching 25 minutes, all but Raikkonen, Glock and the Ferrari duo have posted a time.
Kovalainen is told to cool his brakes and box, the Caterhams not looking too good here, hence, no doubt, the lack of press releases again.
Vettel ups the ante with a 33.215, the German going quickest in the final two sectors. Championship leader Alonso still down in tenth.
Massa's first flying lap sees the Brazilian go sixth (33.951), leaving Raikkonen, with 28:00 on the clock, the only driver yet to post a time.
With 23:17 on the clock, Rosberg, currently thirteenth, is the first driver to switch to the soft (option) rubber. Moments later, Alonso switches also. Raikkonen, still unhappy with the balance on his car, asks his engineers to check the front of his car.
Rosberg improves to fifth with a 33.899 not the sort of improvement he might have been looking for. In the Williams garage a mechanic is hitting something (but what) with a hammer.
Session over for Hulkenberg who goes off at Degner 2. There is a significant amount of damage to the Force India. Replay shows him lose the rear end at the entry to the corner. Despite his best efforts he is unable to keep the car out of the barriers. This, of course, follows di Resta's off in FP2 yesterday. Busy weekend for the boys from Silverstone.
Schumacher, now on softs, goes sixth (33.902) while Ferrari drivers Massa and Alonso are now eighth and ninth.
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