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Vettel quickest in final practice

NEWS STORY
27/10/2012

Ahead of today's sole practice session the air temperature is 27 degrees C, while the track temperature is 33 degrees. As yesterday, indeed, last year, it is hazy, though not quite as hazy as usual.

Sebastian Vettel was the pace-setter in both sessions yesterday, the RBR* looking as though it was on rails yesterday. However, for those hoping that the German doesn't wrap up his third title just yet, the good news is that on the longer high fuel runs the McLarens and Ferrari were on the pace.

As in Korea, another track that sees very little use other than the Grand Prix, the greenness of the track meant lots of offs and spins yesterday as drivers struggled for grip.

At one stage, the top three were covered by just 0.010s however, once Vettel and Webber put their pedal truly to the metal this widened. Nico Rosberg was fourth quickest in the Mercedes but even the German team admits that not too much should be read into this.

Away from the track - well sort of - Ferrari is embroiled in a row over a flag its cars are wearing in support of the Italian Navy, a move that Indian officials regard as political, a claim strongly denied by the Maranello outfit.

Again, as in Korea, it appears the local are not entirely convinced by F1, the grandstands almost empty.

Talking of Ferrari, the Italian revealed that the reason for Felipe Massa's numerous spins, which caused him to end his session early due to lack of tyres, was down to a technical issue as opposed to driver error.

The lights go green and within seconds there are 15 drivers on track, including the Red Bull duo, clearly eager to get to work.

Tyres for this weekend are hard and soft, however, it is the harder rubber that everyone is using right now.

Unusually, for a Saturday, the Red Bulls are sporting flo-vis at the front of both cars, the Austrian outfit clearly taking nothing for granted.

Five minutes into the session everyone has been out but no times posted.

The Lotus dup are the first out for a second run, Raikkonen leading the way. The Finn posts a 1:30.183 with teammate Grosjean crossing the line at 33.035.

As more drivers pour on to the track, Raikkonen improves with a 28.173. Esteban Gutierrez, who stood in for Sergio Perez in FP1, watches from the back of the Sauber garage.

As Raikkonen improves to 27.686 Lotus admits that its hard tyre pace is already looking better than yesterday.

A big trip through the kitty litter for Rosberg at T3 after he appears to trip up over Grosjean.

Having posted a 34.157 on his first lap, Hamilton improves on his next lap and looks set to go quickest before running wide in the final sector and aborting the lap.

Ominously, right out of the box both Red Bulls set a blistering pace, Webber going quickest (26.887) and Vettel second (27.108). Hamilton improves to fourth with a 27.834.

As Hulkenberg runs wide, teammate di Resta has a trip across the kerbs. Vettel goes quickest with a 26.822. Hamilton complains that his tyres are "overheating".

Webber re-takes the top spot with a 26.657 as Vettel is told that he needs to make up time in S2. The German responds by going quickest in all three sectors, crossing the line at a mighty 25.892 - the quickest time of the weekend thus far - and 0.765 quicker than his teammate.

As Kobayashi runs wide in T1, teammate Perez gets in the way of Hamilton causing the McLaren driver to abort his lap.

With 32:50 remaining, only the Ferraris haven't posted a time.

Senna, still on hards, goes third, ahead of the McLarens, with a 26.923, the Brazilian one of several drivers yet to secure a drive for 2013 and therefore fairly motivated.

At half-time, with no sign of the option rubber, it's: Vettel, Webber, Senna, Hamilton, Button, di Resta, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Hulkenberg and Maldonado. The Ferraris finally come out to play.

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