Vettel quickest in shortened session


Ahead of today's sole free practice session the air temperature is 27 degrees C, while the track temperature is 34 degrees. It remains sunny albeit with the usual smog.

There are two DRS zones at, the detection point of the first is 16m before Turn 3 and its activation point is 350m after Turn 3. The second zone's detection point is 10m after
Turn 15, with the activation point 36m after Turn 16.

Tyre compounds medium and soft as opposed to the hard and soft combination used in 2011 and 2012.

Once again it appears we could be facing an issue with the tyres. The softs appear to go off very, very quickly, some say after just five laps, with Red Bull clearly not liking them one little bit.

Although there were no serious issues yesterday there was lots of wear, particularly to the left-front, leading to Sergio Perez claiming that we could witness some Silverstone style failures.

While Red Bull dominated both sessions the Austrian team didn't have an easy time of it, other than the tyre issues (softs), Sebastian Vettel suffered an intermittent KERS issue.

Mercedes looks strong here but so too does Lotus, Romain Grosjean in particular, while Williams is reeling from its second successive hefty fine after another wheelnut issue.

Moments before the session is due to start (11.00 local time) officials announce that the start has been delayed by 15 minutes until 11.15 due to "visibility problems". FP3 will now last for just 45 minutes.

"Visibility problems" refers to the 'smog' that will prevent the air ambulance taking off.

Having announced a further 15 minute delay the officials say the session will actually get underway at 11.20. We're getting there.

Waiting patiently at the end of the pitlane is Gutierrez, when the lights finally go green he is followed by Webber, Ricciardo, Vergne and Raikkonen.

The shortened session means there is action from the start, Webber posting a 1:27.879. It also means that teams have been forced to change their strategy, Caterham switching Van der Garde, who described yesterday as his best Friday of the year, to two runs.

In no time at all everyone bar Maldonado has been out, Webber remains quickest (27.180), ahead of Alonso, Perez and Bottas.

Rosberg, Perez and Sutil all have little moments, running wide on various points on the track.

With thirty minutes on the shortened session remaining all but Webber, Massa and Bottas are on track, Perez leapfrogs Webber with a 27.136.

As Alonso goes quickest (27.011), ahead of Hulkenberg, Vettel, on his first flying lap, goes quickest with a 25.332. The German is the first to use the softer rubber indeed, until Webber follows suit and switches to options, he is the only driver on the yellow banded tyres.

On the options Webber posts 25.892 to go second, albeit 0.560s down on his teammate.

In the Sauber garage Hulkenberg sends one of his mechanics flying having caught his leg. Thankfully the mechanic is OK.

As Chilton has a big, big slide at T6, Massa is the third driver to make the switch to softs.

Having completed 3 laps on the options Vettel pits and switches to the primes. There's a good chance that we could see some of the leaders attempt to qualify on the harder tyres later this afternoon.

With 16:00 remaining the majority of drivers are in the pits, though Vettel is back on track still on the options.

TV cameras pick up Gutierrez in the air like a 'bucking bronco' as he gets the kerbs at the chicane (Turns 13/14) all wrong.

Grosjean switches to options as Vettel continues to experiment finding just how much he can get out of the softer tyres.

Lotus reveals that Raikkonen is much happier with his car today whilst Grosjean has a "touch of understeer".

In the Mercedes garage mechanics are working on Hamilton's front suspension. Rosberg has complained of too much understeer in low speed corners.

While most derivers switch to softs for the final runs, the ever canny Button goes out on a brand new set of primes.

Vettel posts 34.823 the German pushing his tyres to the very limit as Red Bull attempts to discover just how long they will last.

With 4:20 on the clock all but di Resta are on track, all now running the soft rubber. Vettel posts 34.735 as the cameras show him running wide.

Hulkenberg claims both his rears are damaged. Elsewhere, Hamilton has to take avoiding action when he comes across Grosjean rejoining the track after running very wide.

Meanwhile, Vettel is now down to 33.801 as he continues to push the Pirelli options.

Interestingly, and unlike almost any other previous FP3 there are no purples on the screen, quite a few greens (PBs) but no purples.

The session ends with Vettel quickest ahead of Webber, Red Bull having been 1-2 in every session thus far. Alonso is third, ahead of Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Massa, di Resta, Rosberg, Button and Hamilton.

Raikkonen is eleventh, ahead of Maldonado, Perez, Sutil, Vergne, Bottas, Ricciardo, Pic, Gutierrez, Van der Garde, Chilton and Bianchi.

A short but fascinating session as tyre strategy, particularly in terms of the options, totally dominates.

Check out our Qualifying gallery, here.

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Published: 26/10/2013
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