Sebastian Vettel’s good form in practice for the Indian Grand Prix has continue on Saturday morning as the German driver closed out the final session over half a second clear of the rest of the field, meaning that he has finished fastest in every practice at the Buddh International Circuit this weekend.
Vettel, who looks set to be crowned world champion for a fourth time this weekend, recorded a best time of 1:25.332 to finish over five-tenths clear of teammate Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
Due to a thick smog that had formed around the circuit, the start of the final practice session was delayed as the medical helicopter was unable to take off. As a result, the session was reduced to just forty minutes, giving teams a dilemma as they had to force as much running as possible into this time.
Vettel was the first driver to move onto the soft tire mid-way through the session, setting one quick time to move to the head of the field before focusing on long runs in the final few minutes of FP3.
A number of drivers were caught out by aggressive wear on their tires with Pastor Maldonado and Lewis Hamilton both enjoying off-track excursions during the forty minute session. However, Vettel’s long run on the soft tire suggests that a long first stint may be possible.
Nico Hulkenberg continued his good form to finish the session in fourth place, but teammate Esteban Gutierrez was less fortunate, finishing down in twentieth place. Romain Grosjean finished in fifth place ahead of Felipe Massa and a resurgent Paul di Resta. Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen failed to pose much of a challenge to Red Bull’s dominance, finishing tenth and eleventh respectively.
Red Bull’s third consecutive one-two finish in practice suggests that it will take nothing short of a miracle for anyone but the defending world champions to win the race on Sunday, and Vettel will undoubtedly be planning his celebrations for his fourth world championship following this domination.