Final practice - Kubica tops tightly-fought session 23 Oct 2010
A brilliant Korean qualifying session is in prospect after five teams were covered by 0.275s after Saturday mornings final free practice session on a track that had been carefully swept by the organisers overnight to remove dirt and stones thrown up during Fridays running.
Robert Kubica and Renault have been the surprise of the last two races, and it was the Pole who set the fastest time with 1m 37.354s, just 0.048s ahead of Lewis Hamiltons McLaren on 1m 37.402s and 0.072s ahead of Fernando Alonsos Ferrari on 1m 37.426s. Mark Webber was 0.087s off the top in the leading Red Bull after a lap of 1m 37.441s, as Sebastian Vettel was down in 16th place on 1m 39.780s after a character-building morning. Nico Rosberg followed the leading quartet with 1m 37.629s for Mercedes GP.
Behind them, Felipe Massa took sixth for Ferrari in 1m 37.955s, ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button on 1m 38.419s, Nico Hulkenberg on 1m 38.501s in the lead Williams, Michael Schumacher on 1m 38.630s in the second Mercedes, Adrian Sutil on 1m 38.632s in the lead Force India, Vitaly Petrov on 1m 38.668s in the second Renault and Rubens Barrichello in 1m 38.733s in the second Williams.
Sebastian Buemi impressed with 13th fastest time for Toro Rosso in 1m 39.058s, ahead of Kamui Kobayashis BMW Sauber on 1m 39.145s, Jaime Alguersuaris Toro Rosso on 1m 39.159s and Vettel.
Nick Heidfeld was 17th in the other BMW Sauber on 1m 40.289s, but while Tonio Liuzzis day began well, running ahead of Sutil, his Force India again encountered problems, leaving him 18th on 1m 41.591s and only just ahead of the leading new teams. Lotus just held on to the honours with Jarno Trullis lap of 1m 41.623s, but Virgins Timo Glock ran him very close with 1m 41.853s. Both great laps. Heikki Kovalainen was 21st for Lotus on 1m 42.095s, then Lucas di Grassi just kept his Virgin ahead of the HRTS, lapping in 1m 43.111s as Bruno Senna improved to 1m 43.417s and Sakon Yamamoto to 1m 43.880s.
After feedback from the drivers yesterday, overnight changes were made to make the kerbs higher than the track in the Turn 16 left-hander and the very fast final corner, Turn 18, after cars bottomed at both points. The Turn 18 apex now discourages drivers from cutting that corner. The wall on the exit of Turn 16 was also reprofiled as it was moved back to run parallel to the track, and the effect overall was to make the blind-entry Turn 17 more of a corner. Minor changes were also made to the pit entry following drivers concerns that it could create dangerous speed differences between pitting cars and those still racing hard.
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