Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel looks set to be in the running for pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix after finishing quickest in the final free practice session.
The Red Bull driver posted a time of 1:36.435, edging out a charging Lewis Hamilton at the top after the Briton led for most of the session. Also in close contention were Adrian Sutil and Mark Webber, both of whom finished within two-tenths of Vettel’s time.
Although heavy rain had been forecast, Free Practice 3 saw the track basking in hot and sunny conditions, allowing the teams to make the most of the dry track ahead of qualifying later. Most of the drivers opted to focus on their longer runs on the harder tire before switching to the medium compound later on in the session. With around five minutes to go, Vettel posted the quickest time to take P1 from Hamilton.
Red Bull and Mercedes will be very pleased with the result, as will Force India, who finished 3rd and 6th ahead of both Ferrari and McLaren. Qualifying could see a dramatic change in the running order, but with the top ten separated by less than one second, it appears the battle for pole position is wide open.
Malaysian GP – Free Practice 3 Classification
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.435
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.568 +0.133
3 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:36.588 +0.153
4 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.613 +0.178
5 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:36.806 +0.371
6 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:36.807 +0.372
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.822 +0.387
8 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:36.946 +0.511
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:36.949 +0.514
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:37.302 +0.867
11 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:37.359 +0.924
12 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.538 +1.103
13 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.685 +1.250
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:37.690 +1.255
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:37.936 +1.501
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.294 +1.859
17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:38.376 +1.941
18 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:38.425 +1.990
19 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:38.995 +2.560
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:39.717 +3.282
21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:40.209 +3.774
22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:40.495 +4.060