July 6th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Sebastian Vettel obliterated all opposition in the third Free Practice session ahead of Sunday's German Grand Prix, lapping three quarters of a second faster than his nearest competitor. Nico Rosberg was best of the rest, just a few thousands of a second faster than the second Red Bull of Mark Webber.
It was a difficult session for Lewis Hamilton, who struggled with oversteer throughout and lacked confidence in the rear-end of his Mercedes during his qualifying simulation right at the end of the session. The Mercedes driver finished the session 1.2 seconds off the pace, over half a second behind his own team-mate.
Hamilton wasn't the only driver to struggled with rear-end grip. Pastor Maldonado complained to the Williams team that his car was difficult to drive, and a few other drivers had big oversteer moments, particularly in the off-camber long turn two. Paul Di Resta and Romain Grosjean were particularly spectacular through that corner, sawing at the wheel while their cars drifted sideways.
The session was broadly about race setup work on the medium tyre, which seems to be the race tyre of choice. The soft compound option tyre did not appear on track until the last 12 minutes of the session, when the teams ran their qualifying simulations. None of the teams and drivers seemed particularly concerned with working on their soft tyre setups, as they are likely to run almost the entire race on the more durable medium tyre.
Ahead of qualifying, Vettel is looking alarmingly quick. If track conditions stay constant, he is likely to take a convincing pole position. Lewis Hamilton, who was so strong in qualifying at last weekend's British Grand Prix, is looking like qualifying could be a difficult session for him. But Mercedes do have two hours before the qualifying session starts in which to work on his setup. How well they can deal with his setup difficulties will become apparent in the results of qualifying.
Full results from FP3:
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:29.517||19|
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:30.211||0.694||18|
|10||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:31.009||1.492||18|
|13||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:31.733||2.216||21|
|21||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:33.964||4.447||21|