• Brazilian Grand Prix - FP3

Button just edges out Vettel in final practice

ESPN Staff
November 24, 2012
Jenson Button set the fastest time in final practice © Getty Images

Jenson Button beat Sebastian Vettel to the fastest time of the final practice session at the Brazilian Grand Prix by just 0.057s, while Vettel's championship rival Fernando Alonso finished down the order in eighth.

The session took place in muggy conditions with lower track temperatures than Friday, allowing the drivers to get more performance from the Pirelli tyres. Button set the fastest time of the weekend so far with a 1:13.188, putting him marginally ahead of Vettel who took to the track at the last minute to set one flying lap.

Mark Webber was third fastest with Friday's pacesetter Lewis Hamilton in fourth after a number of his attempts at a fast lap were marred by traffic. The top ten were closely matched around the short 2.6 mile circuit and Alonso ended up 0.503s off Button's pace. Ferrari again struggled for one-lap pace with Felipe Massa, who had looked the stronger of the two on Friday, tenth fastest.

Lotus performed its usual trick of improving on Saturday morning with Romain Grosjean fifth fastest, but Kimi Raikkonen pulled out of the session after only a handful of laps with an engine issue. His Lotus came to a halt with a large plume of smoke trailing it down the back straight and the team will now face a race against time to get another Renault V8 fitted for qualifying. However, he will not receive a penalty as Lotus intends to fit another one of his eight allocated engines that has been used previously this season.

Force India put in a strong performance with its cars sixth and seventh and Paul di Resta within 0.3s of the fastest time. It will be vital for Alonso to qualify ahead of the faster midfield cars, such as the Force Indias, if he is to stand any chance of closing the 13-point gap to Vettel on Sunday.

Outside the top ten, Mercedes struggles continued with Nico Rosberg 12th and Michael Schumacher back in 15th. In his final practice session before retiring, Schumacher had a close call as he narrowly avoided a recovering Bruno Senna at Juncao as the Williams driver spun his car back onto the track. It also ruined Schumacher's first flying lap on the medium tyres so he will be hopeful of improving on his position to give himself decent grid slot for his send off on Sunday.

Rain could also play a factor in qualifying with a thick blanket of clouds covering the circuits by the end of the session.

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