Grosjean fastest as rain hits Albert Park
16 March 2013 – Lotus driver Romain Grosjean set the pace during a rain-hit final practice session in Melbourne on Saturday, posting a time of 1:26.929 in the early dry phase. Ferrari duo Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa completed the top three, while reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel ground to a halt with a late hydraulic issue.
The session began under heavy clouds and it was soon clear that rain was on the way, with most teams predicting showers a quarter of an hour into the session. This led to a flurry of laps, predominantly on the Medium compound tyre, with Mark Webber initially topping the timesheets. Highlighting the extent of the leaderboard changes, the Red Bull driver dropped back to 13th place, while Grosjean moved to the fore.
When the rain arrived, it took around 20 minutes for any of the drivers to brave the conditions, with Massa the first man to venture out on Wets. His first time was more than 20 seconds slower than the best dry effort, but the track surface dried up and allowed for the a switch to Intermediates. As the session concluded, di Resta was best of the rest behind the top three, with Kimi Räikkönen a little further back in fifth.
Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Éric Vergne, Adrian Sutil, Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez were the final men inside the top ten, with Vettel slipping down the order to 12th amid his late technical troubles. The German driver slowed on the exit of Turn 3 and gradually brought his RB9 to a stop next to the barriers. It was attributed to a hydraulic failure over his team radio, with the stoppage coming as a precaution.
In the battle at the back, the Marussia and Caterham drivers took advantage of the dry window to outplace some big names. Jules Bianchi was the leader in 14th, finishing just ahead of Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic. McLaren's Jenson Button and Sergio Pérez wound up 16th and 17th, with Williams pairing Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas plus Max Chilton and Lewis Hamilton bringing up the rear.
Saturday's qualifying session in Melbourne gets underway at 5pm local time (GMT +11) and can be tracked via the GPUpdate.net Live Report feature