Massa narrowly tops Free Practice 3

Massa narrowly tops Free Practice 3

The sun emerged for the third and final practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, enabling teams to get testing their new upgrades after the delays of Friday morning. Felipe Massa ended the morning session in first place, just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus. 0664cb1d1341

60 minutes of track action kicked off with  a flurry of activity. Daniel Ricciardo was the first driver out on track, followed by Paul Di Resta who attempted a practice start. The Scot’s start was mirrored by team-mate Adrian Sutil.

Nico Rosberg opened up the time sheets with a 1m29.468, however Lewis Hamilton displaced him swiftly on the hard compound tyre. The two Mercedes looked to be on longer runs after their times were beaten by the Caterham of Charles Pic, both Hamilton and Rosberg prioritising race pace in the early part of the session.

Aero paint was in demand for teams throughout the session, with plenty of new tweaks and updates to try out. However the first 15 minutes were not as busy as first predicted, with just five drivers setting a lap time. Gutierrez had some time at the top before the big teams emerged, Sebastian Vettel’s displacing the Mexican before Kimi Raikkonen had a stint at the front.

With 20 minutes of the session been and gone, there was a hive of activity out on track as drivers emerged to complete their first runs. Most chose to complete some low fuel runs on the hard tyre, Alonso proving to be the fastest of those drivers. The margins were close at the front as the halfway mark passed by, the home hero’s 1m23.006 was just 0.036 seconds faster than Romain Grosjean, with Raikkonen 0.093 seconds down on Alonso respectively.

After a rather quiet mid-part of practice three, the track action increased as focus switched to medium compound running. Alonso regained the top spot on his first medium compound run, gaining seven tenths to go fastest with a 1m22.254. Nico Rosberg went six tenths down on his first run before Hamilton bettered the German’s effort to provisionally hold second place. The Spaniard was not in the lead for long, Raikkonen went three tenths faster to prove Lotus are in the mix.

Webber moved up the field too, with Di Resta also impressing on his first timed lap. The circuit was typically busy as the chequered flag closed in, Vettel and Grosjean improving their times to move up the time sheets. Felipe Massa went to the top of the time sheets with five minutes remaining and stayed there by the flag fall, with a best time of 1m21.901 on the medium compound tyre.

Kimi Raikkonen ended the session in second place, just 0.006 down on the Ferrari. Webber and Grosjean were close behind, with the Aussie bettering his team-mate Sebastian Vettel who set the fifth fastest time. Alonso slipped to sixth after sitting pretty at the top of the time sheets for most of the session. Di Resta, Sutil, Hamilton and Vergne rounded out the 10.

Rosberg and Button finished just outside the top 10 after their final qualifying run, the McLaren team continue to struggle. This was even more evident after mechanical problems with Sergio Perez’s car, the Mexican ended the session down in 14th.

2012 race winner Maldonado failed to show the speed of 12 months ago, finishing FP3 in 15th. Charles Pic was the leading back-marker but the battle with Bianchi was close, Chilton and van der Garde rounded out the runners.

Pos  Driver               Team/Car              Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari               1m21.901s            13
 2.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault         1m21.907s  + 0.006s  14
 3.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault      1m22.044s  + 0.143s  17
 4.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         1m22.069s  + 0.168s  13
 5.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1m22.229s  + 0.328s  17
 6.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1m22.254s  + 0.353s  15
 7.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes  1m22.574s  + 0.673s  11
 8.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  1m22.729s  + 0.828s  17
 9.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              1m22.740s  + 0.839s  24
10.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m22.759s  + 0.858s  15
11.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              1m22.839s  + 0.938s  26
12.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      1m23.151s  + 1.250s  13
13.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        1m23.371s  + 1.470s  21
14.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes      1m23.373s  + 1.472s  13
15.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault      1m23.385s  + 1.484s  17
16.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari        1m23.388s  + 1.487s  18
17.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault      1m23.660s  + 1.759s  16
18.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m23.767s  + 1.866s  17
19.  Charles Pic          Caterham-Renault      1m24.775s  + 2.874s  18
20.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth     1m24.793s  + 2.892s  16
21.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth     1m25.135s  + 3.234s  17
22.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault      1m25.250s  + 3.349s  18

 Image courtesy of Octane Photographic

Jack Leslie

Jack Leslie

Jack Leslie is a freelance motorsport and Formula 1 journalist. He has been part of the Richland F1 team since the very start and made his F1 paddock debut for the website at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Jack also writes for Car Throttle, RumbleStripNews, Formula1Blog, PureF1 and F1 Plus, as well as running a popular blog.