Alonso dominates final Shanghai practice
13 April 2013 – Fernando Alonso set the quickest time in Saturday morning's third and final practice session at Shanghai, coming out on top during a late flurry of Soft tyre runs. The Ferrari driver posted a personal best 1:35.391 to finish a mammoth 0.622 seconds ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa, with Lewis Hamilton in third.
With the pleasant weather conditions continuing on Saturday, the field spent a large part of the session preparing for tomorrow afternoon's race on the Prime tyres. The Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg controlled the pace at this point, before the latter signalled the switch to the Soft rubber with around 20 minutes remaining.
However, there was drama to follow as Rosberg reported an issue with his car and had to abandon his Option tyre run before prematurely ending his session. Team-mate Hamilton's first lap was also aborted, but he managed to extract an extra lap and held on to third after Massa and Alonso surged to the front of the field.
Battling Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber wound up fourth and fifth, suffering massively in the final sector of the lap due to the strong straight line speeds of their Ferrari and Mercedes rivals. Adrian Sutil finished an impressive sixth for Force India, edging out former World Champions Kimi Räikkönen and Jenson Button.
Sergio Pérez recovered from his Friday woes to claim ninth, edging out Sauber replacement Nico Hülkenberg. Toro Rosso drivers Jean-Éric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of Rosberg's suspected hydraulic misfortune to close in on the top ten, while Williams continued to struggle after technical chief Mike Coughlan explained that the team was "two seconds away" from where it wanted to be on Friday.
Paul di Resta and Romain Grosjean were the last of the big names in 16th and 17th, while Jules Bianchi kept Marussia ahead of key rivals Caterham. The Frenchman ended the morning more than a second quicker than team-mate Max Chilton.
There was little drama throughout the one hour session, although an ambulance was called around ten minutes into the action after a Marussia mechanic sustained a minor leg injury. He was taken to the circuit's medical centre for precautionary checks.
Saturday afternoon's hour-long qualifying session at Shanghai gets underway at 2pm local time (GMT +8) and can be tracked via the GPUpdate.net Live Report