VALENCIA, Spain, June 25, 2011 (AFP) - Defending drivers world champion Sebastian Vettel topped the times in Saturday morning's final free practice session ahead of qualifying for Sunday's European Grand Prix.
The 23-year-old German, driving his Red Bull car clocked a best lap in one minute and 37.258 seconds, four-tenths of a second clear of local favourite Fernando Alonso for Ferrari in front of a sun-kissed crowd at the Mediterranean port street circuit.
The 29-year-old Spaniard and two-times champion had been fastest for a period during the one-hour session, but finished up second ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Brazilian Felipe Massa and fourth-placed Australian Mark Webber in the second Red Bull.
Alonso was fastest at the end of Friday's action and his success helped to suggest that a more evenly-fought contest may be in prospect for the 57-laps race around the harbour.
Britons Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton of McLaren were fifth and seventh-quickest respectively either side of German Nico Rosberg who was sixth for Mercedes with his compatriot seven-times champion Michael Schumacher, 42, down in eighth place.
The two Renaults of Russian Vitaly Petrov and German Nick Heidfeld were ninth and tenth on a warm morning and under a blue sky with the track temperature creeping up to 40 degrees Celsius during the session.
Both McLaren and Ferrari ran with new components in the shape of a revised rear wing for the British team and a front wing for the Italians.Many paddock observers suggested that the McLaren performance in practice was affected by high confidence in their race pace - as a result of which they ran in practice with heavy fuel loads.
The session was free of major incidents other than one at the end when Japanese Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber lost control and ran off at the final corner. He was unhurt.
Here are the results:
|EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX PRACTICE 3 TIMES (FP3)|
|11||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:39.411||2.153||19|
|13||15||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:39.823||2.565||18|