• Indian Grand Prix - FP3

Vettel fastest again in smog-shortened final practice

ESPN Staff
October 26, 2013
© Sutton Images

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of a curtailed final practice session after smog delayed the green light by 20 minutes.

With a mandatory two hours between third practice and qualifying, the session was shortened to just 40 minutes, resulting in an action-packed schedule for the teams. Red Bull opted for a notably different running programme to the rest as Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber both set their qualifying simulation runs earlier in the session to give themselves time on the softer compound to try to solve the front-left tyre graining they experienced during Friday practice. Vettel managed 13 laps in total on his set of softs (10 on high fuel) but his front tyres looked ruined by the end of the session with a long line of blisters along the surface.

Red Bull's rivals stuck to the more familiar schedule of setting a low-fuel time on the soft tyres towards the end of the session, but even though they clocked their laps in better track conditions the times were still a long way short of the Red Bulls.

Fernando Alonso was the closest non-Red Bull driver to Vettel, 0.773s off the pace, before he too completed a medium-length run on the soft compound. Lewis Hamilton could only manage 10th fastest after he was held up by Romain Grosjean with a display of driving not dissimilar to the chaos on Delhi's streets 50km down the road. Grosjean ran wide in Turn 11 and as he rejoined he moved across on Hamilton, forcing the Mercedes to take avoiding action. No damage was done other than to Hamilton's lap time, and Grosjean went on to set the fifth fastest time of the session.

With tyre degradation work going on up and down the field there was a mixed bag in the top ten, with Force India's Paul di Resta featuring but Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen just missing out. Nico Hulkenberg was fourth fastest as he continued to show impressive pace in the Sauber, but had a nasty moment as he returned to the pits after an early run and clipped his rear jack man. Meanwhile, team-mate Esteban Gutierrez gave the rest of the Sauber crew something to wince about as he flew high over the kerbs at Turn 7 and landed with thud after running wide.

Spectators in the grandstands were once again few and far between, but with nothing but a hazy view of an empty track for the first 20 minutes they did not miss out on much. Although conditions on the ground were fine for the drivers, the medical helicopter could not operate in the thick white haze above and therefore the session was delayed to allow the sun to burn through the mist.

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