- European Grand Prix - FP3
Vettel sets final practice pace
Sebastian Vettel resumed normal service for Red Bull at the European Grand Prix, by moving to the top of the timesheets during the final practice session ahead of qualifying.
His time of 1:38.052 was a tenth up on an impressive performance by Robert Kubica in the Renault and 0.261 seconds up on his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber in third. Vettel set the time on soft tyres after the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso had been fastest on the hards earlier in the session.
Alonso failed to come alive when he bolted on the softer rubber, but he may well have been experimenting with a heavier fuel load as he finished fifth fastest behind another very impressive performance by Adrian Sutil in the Force India. Sutil's car suits the Valencia street circuit and, like Kubica, he will be aiming to cause an upset in qualifying.
If Sutil and Kubica do secure high positions on the grid, it will likely be at the expense of the McLarens and Mercedes. The McLaren has no major updates this weekend and Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton ended up ninth and tenth fastest overall. Hamilton's car required some work on the front-left brake during the session and a major alteration to Button's rear wing within the last 10 minutes suggests he is still not happy with the balance.
Michael Schumacher was also struggling and ended up over a second off the pace in 15th. Mercedes is confident the car has been improved, but Schumacher complained of failing to find a "rhythm" on Friday and still appeared to be out of sorts on Saturday morning. His team-mate Nico Rosberg was 11th fastest, but should improve on that in qualifying after showing promise throughout the weekend.
Another couple of drivers to keep an eye on are Rubens Barrichello in the Williams and Tonio Liuzzi in the Force India. Barrichello won here last year and managed to set the sixth fastest lap in final practice. Liuzzi was one place behind in seventh place and is confident of building on his strong performance at the Canadian Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
The lower half of the field was in a more familiar order, with the bottom eight places being filled by the two Saubers, the two Lotuses, the two Virgins and the two HRTs.