Sep 21, 2013, 7:03 AM EDT
Sebastian Vettel has continued to dominate practice for the Singapore Grand Prix after finishing the final session quickest ahead of qualifying later today.
The German driver posted a best lap time of 1:44.173, finishing just under two-tenths ahead of Lotus’ Romain Grosjean and over one second clear of his closest championship rival Fernando Alonso.
However, Red Bull could not repeat the one-two finish from FP2 yesterday as Mark Webber made a mistake on his final run to finish fourth and almost three-quarters of a second slower than his teammate.
Final practice got underway in the diminishing light of the early evening, with qualifying set to take place in complete darkness. Most drivers chose to venture out on the harder tire for their first runs, with Caterham drivers Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic being the first to emerge from the pits. They were soon joined out on track by Adrian Sutil, who at one point had set an identical time to Pic before going quicker on his second run. Teammate Paul di Resta sent his car into a spin in pursuit of a faster lap time, whilst Esteban Gutierrez ran wide under braking and was very lucky to not put his Sauber into the wall. Ahead of the front-runners’ first times, Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest man on the circuit, closely followed by teammate Jean-Eric Vergne.
However, the Australian’s dominance was not going to last long. Nico Rosberg soon moved to the head of the field, only for an impressive lap time from Romain Grosjean to overthrow the Mercedes driver as Lewis Hamilton split the pair in P2. Red Bull soon resumed normal service following their domination of FP2, with Mark Webber going three-tenths faster than Hamilton half way through the session. Having topped second practice yesterday, Vettel could not initially beat his teammate, falling just 0.079 seconds short on the medium tire to sit P2 whilst Fernando Alonso’s struggles continued down in P6, eight-tenths off the pace.
With ten minutes to go, the teams undertook their final simulations for qualifying, lightly-fuelling the cars and putting on the super-soft tires. Grosjean was the first driver to venture out on the red-ringed rubber, immediately going fastest. Alonso could not match the Frenchman’s pace, lagging eight-tenths behind after his first flying lap. A mistake from Webber saw him fall short and only manage P4 behind Rosberg, with Hamilton trailing in fifth. A slight scrape with the wall was van der Garde’s only mistake in an otherwise good session for Caterham as they once again outpaced closest-rivals Marussia. Inevitably, Vettel pulled out a fine lap on the option tire to go quickest by 0.191 seconds.
Grosjean’s good showing suggests that Lotus could spring an upset in qualifying later today, but, given the nature of Vettel’s dominance so far this weekend, it will be an uphill task for any driver to overthrow the defending world champion at the top of the timesheets.