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Sebastian Vettel has topped final practice ahead of Indian Grand Prix qualifying, heading Jenson Button on Saturday morning. As the Ferrari drivers experimented with slipstreaming each other, McLaren finished second and fourth but the pair of Red Bulls remain quickest across all three sectors of the Buddh International Circuit.
At some points of the weekend there has been hope for Red Bull’s opponents, but in reality the Milton Keynes cars are set to seal a third front row lock-out of 2012. This would follow Vettel’s domination of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix weekend last season. Having saved Soft compound tyres for most of the session, the championship leader fitted just one set to post his final lap time of 1:25.842 before the chequered flag.
This morning, Red Bull ran luminous aerodynamic paint on Vettel’s front wing as Force India fitted Paul di Resta’s car with a new engine; as he is still yet to exceed his eight-engine limit, the Scot will not receive a ten-place grid penalty. On-track, the Lotus of Kimi Räikkönen was first to post a lap time, 13 minutes into the hour-long period.
At Ferrari, both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa left their running late; following the initial installation laps, the duo were last to post times. They could then be seen following one another in other to pick time; depending on how successful it was, the pair could use the tactic in qualifying. On the timesheets, Alonso finished seventh behind Bruno Senna, whose Williams shot up the order on the Soft compound. Mercedes’ struggles continues, with Michael Schumacher leading the way from ninth place.
It was a chiefly incident-free session, but traffic could prove a problem in qualifying because some drivers are requiring several laps to build up tyre temperature. The final corner proved to be a scene of drama; Webber spun and Lewis Hamilton suffered an opposite lock moment before slowing at the end of the session. A technical problem could have been the reason for the Englishman, whose car was checked over.
Qualifying for the 2012 Indian Grand Prix begins at 2pm local time (BST +4:30) and can also be tracked through the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report
|1.||S. Vettel||Red Bull||01:25.842||20|
|3.||M. Webber||Red Bull||01:26.108||18|
|8.||N. Hulkenberg||Force India||01:26.531||21|
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|12 May||We can be happy with fourth, says Vettel|
|2012 Indian Formula 1 Grand Prix|
|29 Oct '12||Vettel emphasises: There is no Ferrari deal|
|29 Oct '12||Domenicali: Alonso drove 60 qualifying laps|
|29 Oct '12||Karthikeyan front wing damaged at start|
|28 Oct '12||After India: Full championship standings|
|11 May||Vettel not dejected after missing pole|
|11 May||Video: Vettel swaps job with race engineer|
|10 May||Vettel expects similar number of pit-stops|
|10 May||Vettel moves ahead in second practice|
|19 May||Hamilton: We must keep focusing on races|
|19 May||Video of the Day: LEGO Ferrari Formula 1 car|
|18 May||Rosberg hopes to capitalise on one-lap pace|
|18 May||Video of the Day: A closer look at braking|
|More Sebastian Vettel photos|