SHANGHAI, April 16, 2011 (AFP) - Germany's reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel led the field in final practice for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix with the Red Bull driver eclipsing his rivals late in the session.
The 23-year-old, who has been fastest all weekend, clocked a time of one minute 34.968 seconds in the final minutes of Saturday's practice session.
Vettel, who is aiming to be the first driver in seven years to take pole at the first three races of the season, finished two tenths of a second ahead of Briton Jenson Button's McLaren. Button's team mate and fellow Briton Lewis Hamilton was two tenths of a second further back in third place.
Championship leader Vettel's fellow countryman Nico Rosberg of Mercedes was in fourth.
In contrast, Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber was left fuming after finishing the session only 15th fastest owing to an electrical fault with his car.
Ferrari drivers double champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso and Brazilian Felipe Massa were fifth and sixth quickest respectively followed by Russian Vitaly Petrov of Renault.
Force India driver German Adrian Sutil was in eighth ahead of his countryman and seven times champion Michael Schumacher in the second Mercedes, while Rookie Briton Paul di Resta in the second Force India was 10th fastest.
If Vettel, who leads the standings after wins in Australia and Malaysia, takes pole Saturday he would become the first driver to start at the front of the grid in the season's opening three races since Schumacher in 2004.
Here are the P3 times:
|8||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:36.125||1.157||15|
|10||15||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:36.370||1.402||18|