British GP - Third practice
Overnight rain left the 5.141km Silverstone circuit slightly damp at the start of the final practice session ahead of the all-important qualifying session for the British Grand Prix. After a sluggish start to the session in which just a handful
of driver lapped gingerly on intermediate tyres, the session got underway properly at the half-way mark and concluded with Williams Toyota moving to the top of the timesheets.
Nico Rosberg, like team-mate Kazuki Nakajima, saved his best to the end of the session as he vaulted to the top of the timesheets with a best time of 1:18.899s, the fastest lap if the race weekend to date. Rosberg, fastest for the 11th time of the season in a practice session, lapped two-tenths clear of Nakajima who desperately needs a strong race on Sunday to move from 20th and last in the drivers’ championship. Jarno Trulli
recorded the third fastest time in his Toyota with team-mate Timo Glock back in seventh following a trip across the grass late in the session at Chapel. The German-based squad expect a strong showing when it counts but also expects Red Bull and Brawn Mercedes to lead the way.
Friday pace-setter Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest in his Red Bull Renault, just under half a second shy of Rosberg’s best. The RB5 features a new aero package this weekend is will be the car to watch right at the end of the all-important qualifying hour. Mark Webber was ninth best in the sister RB5.
Ferrari are now the only team running KERS in Formula One as Max Mosley’s much-hyped and very expensive initiative takes a further nose-dive at the mid-point of the season. Still, Ferrari picked up the pace this morning with Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen
recording the fifth and sixth fastest times respectively. Fernando Alonso
led the Renault challenge with the eighth fastest time with team-mate Nelson Piquet three-tenths of a second adrift in 13th while Rubens Barrichello
rounded out the top ten in the leading Brawn Mercedes. With championship leader Jenson Button
just 12th on this occasion, it does seem that the former Honda team may be struggling a little for pace.
Lewis Hamilton split the Brawn duo is his similarly powered McLaren and it is noticeable that the defending champion is shifting down into sixth gear into the first turn, while rivals such as Jarno Trulli
can remain in top gear and just breathe off the throttle. Downforce – or the lack of it -is the ongoing problem for the Woking-based team.
It was another mixed session for the Toro Rosso Ferrari team with Sebastien Bourdais having a trouble free run to 14th while team-mate Sebastien Buemi was forced to sit out 40 minute of the hour long session with a hydraulic issue on his STR4. The Swiss Rookie ended the session 19th.
The Force India Mercedes duo of Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella
were 15th and 16th fastest respectively ahead of last year’s pole-sitter Heikki Kovalainen in the second McLaren Mercedes. It was another dismal session for the BMW Sauber team with Nick Heidfeld
and Robert Kubica languishing in 18th and 20th at 1.8 and 2.1 seconds off the ultimate pace.