October 5th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - After a Mercedes-led Friday, it was advantage Red Bull in final practice for this weekend's Korean Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel set the pace ahead of his team-mate, Mark Webber, with the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton third and fourth.
The lap times suggest that Mercedes are lacking about four tenths of a second per lap to the Red Bulls, but the reality may be somewhat closer. Lewis Hamilton pulled out of his first flying lap on the supersoft tyres when he found himself in traffic, and therefore was unable to take advantage of the maximum grip available from the option tyres. Both Red Bull drivers set their best times on their first supersoft tyre laps, when the tyres were at their best.
Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest for Ferrari, with Felipe Massa seventh, a third of a second behind his team-mate. Massa has previously been strong at the Korea International Circuit and will be looking to score a large haul of points tomorrow. Alonso does not look like his car has the pace to challenge for pole position, but he will be hoping to carry his FP3 pace into qualifying in order to start the race as high as possible up the grid and use his recent first lap form to get as close to the front as possible in the early stages of the race.
At Lotus, Romain Grosjean continues to have the edge on Kimi Raikkonen. The Frenchman set the sixth fastest time, splitting the Ferraris and a tenth of a second faster than Raikkonen in 8th place. Grosjean has yet to score his maiden Formula One victory, but looks unlikely to have the pace to do so this weekend if the race takes place in dry conditions. If it rains, however, Lotus could be in with a chance of topping the podium on Sunday.
Nico Hulkenberg was an impressive ninth for Sauber, showing that the car has good pace in Korea. He and Esteban Gutierrez will be hoping to feature in the points in tomorrow's race. Gutierrez is still looking for his first points finish in Formula One in his rookie season and has a chance of scoring them on Sunday.
Jenson Button rounded out the top ten for McLaren. He expressed optimism yesterday that McLaren could challenge Lotus this weekend, but there does seem to be a gap of a few tenths between the two teams and McLaren appear unlikely to have the pace to beat Lotus tomorrow in a straight fight in dry weather.
Qualifying starts at 2pm local time this afternoon.
Full results from FP3:
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:37.881||17|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:38.018||0.137||17|
|13||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:39.204||1.323||17|
|16||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:39.371||1.490||19|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:41.614||3.733||20|