Webber makes the best of the wet to top FP3

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Mark Webber has finished fastest in the final practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix after running well in the wet conditions that meant any truly meaningful running ahead of qualifying was impossible.

Webber’s time of 1:27.891 saw him finished ahead of both Lotus drivers as many – including teammate Sebastian Vettel – opted to curtail their running in favor of saving a set of tires.

With the rain that marred yesterday’s practice sessions failing to dissipate on Saturday morning, it was another session of running on the intermediate and wet tires. Esteban Gutierrez was the first driver to venture out into the spray and post a time, whilst a number of other drivers opted to only go out for an installation lap in order to save their tires for the later sessions when rain was also forecast. However, the teams opted to remain in the pits until there was a break in the weather to allow for some meaningful running.

A slight break in the weather prompted the teams to get out on track, and Marussia’s Jules Bianchi soon overthrew Gutierrez at the top of the timesheets with Chilton slotting in to third place. Valtteri Bottas – keen on building on his points in Austin – enjoyed a couple of minutes at the top before Sebastian Vettel emerged from the pits and went quicker than the Williams driver before running wide due to the rain on his next lap. Lewis Hamilton was the first driver to dip below the 1:30s mark with a lap that saw him move up to P1, and conditions continued to improve with every lap that went by.

With just under ten minutes remaining, the crossover point came and allowed drivers to go out on the intermediate tire. Mark Webber took advantage of this to go to the top of the timesheets with Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg within a second of the Red Bull. However, some of the drivers opted to stay in the pits and wait for qualifying to get out on track to save tires. Romain Grosjean and Heikki Kovalainen proved Lotus’ pace in the wet to move up to P2 and P3, but ultimately, no one could beat Webber at the top.

Webber will be hoping to continue this form across the course of his last grand prix weekend before he retires from Formula One.

Toro Rosso at crossroads after Kvyat’s point, Hartley’s strong debut

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In a weekend with something to prove at Circuit of The Americas, Daniil Kvyat rose to the occasion with what he called “his best race of the season for sure” at the United States Grand Prix.

But it may not be enough for the Russian to have saved his seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso for the three final races this year.

Meanwhile, New Zealander Brendon Hartley capped off his roller-coaster debut weekend in Formula 1 with a solid 13th place finish after starting from the rear of the grid, learning as the race went on and bringing home his Toro Rosso chassis to the flag.

Toro Rosso faces a dilemma of three drivers available but only two seats to fill for the final three Grands Prix, with the Mexican Grand Prix coming up just next week.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly will be back after missing Austin due to his Super Formula commitments at Suzuka in Japan, but ultimately that went for naught as the races were canceled due to a typhoon.

Kvyat qualified 12th, was promoted to 11th by way of grid penalties and ended 10th, scoring a point for only the third race this year and first time since coming ninth in the Spanish Grand Prix back in May.

It was a weekend where he would have been expected to outdo Hartley, and did so, but not by a massive margin. And he was already coming in with a track time disadvantage, losing out in FP1 as Indonesian Formula 2 driver Sean Gelael ran in his chassis.

As it was, he rated his weekend performance highly and didn’t do his chances of staying in the car any harm.

Speaking to NBCSN after the race, Kvyat said, “Yeah, it was a perfect race. I did everything well. Brought the points home. It was close with (Felipe) Massa.

“We had some energy release issues on the engine. But it was a massive weekend. It was great. I really enjoyed myself. It was a good job by the team to keep it together with very limited running.

Hartley built up confidence throughout the weekend as he learned the car, the Pirelli tires and how an F1 race races versus an endurance race that he’d been used to doing for several years.

Having coming into the weekend with no expectations and just taking the race session-by-session, he felt good at the end of it.

“There’s so many little things to reflect on,” he told NBCSN. “I’ll put the eyes at rest and process it all. I did the standing start and it wasn’t the best… it’s been a long time.

“But yeah, (you’re learning) in terms of following in traffic, what 20 laps on these tires means, how much you can push it. I’m pretty satisfied. The pace was pretty strong. I made the mistake of getting passed by (Lance) Stroll. I couldn’t pass him back. Lots of challenges. I hope I can get another shot at it.

“Up until this moment… I didn’t want to know. I just wanted to do the job. I’m really relaxed. Now there might be some conversations.”

Toro Rosso figures to reveal its Mexican Grand Prix driver lineup early this week.