Final practice - Button makes it three from three 08 Oct 2011
As Jenson Button continued to dominate practice at Suzuka on Saturday morning, taking his McLaren round a half second faster than team mate Lewis Hamilton, the question was whether Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull were sandbagging as the world champion was eight-tenths away from the pace on a circuit that has hitherto suited them.
The session was stopped early on after Bruno Senna had spun his Renault on the exit to the Spoon Curve and crashed hard enough into the tyre wall on the inside to remove the left front wheel. Only the Brazilians pride was hurt.
Once things resumed, Button took charge, was overtaken by the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, and then stamped his authority once and for all with a lap of 1m 31.255s.
For a while Michael Schumacher jumped to second for Mercedes, before Hamilton staged a late improvement to 1m 31.762s, 0.507s off Button. The silver cars from Woking were the only ones below 1m 32s.
Vettel improved late to 1m 32.122s for third, and the question remains what their respective fuel loads were. We will find out soon enough in qualifying.
Fernando Alonso also improved late, to 1m 32.279s for fourth for Ferrari, ahead of Mark Webber on 1m 32.401s and Felipe Massa on 1m 32.429s. Schumacher dropped back to seventh on 1m 32.725s, with Rosberg eighth on 1m 32.878s.
Vitaly Petrov continued to show well for Renault with 1m 33.058s for ninth, with Adrian Sutil completing the top 10 with 1m 33.424s for Force India. In the Germans wake came the Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, with 1m 33.469s and 1m 33.545s respectively, then the Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez, on 1m 33.818s and 1m 33.836s. Paul di Resta rounded out the runners below 1m 34s with 1m 33.990s in the second Force India.
Pastor Maldonado had the faster Williams with 1m 34.321s for 16th, with Senna left 17th on 1m 35.389s prior to his shunt. Rubens Barrichello was 18th on 1m 35.651s, then Jarno Trulli headed Lotus team mate Heikki Kovalainen in their usual 19th and 20th places, with 1m 36.327s and 1m 36.912s apiece.
The Virgins got back ahead of HRT after Daniel Ricciardo had had a spell in 21st, Jerome dAmbrosio lapping in 1m 37.938s to Timo Glocks 1m 38.011s. Ricciardo remained close, however, with 1m 38.355s. Tonio Liuzzis weekend of disaster continued, however, as his HRT stopped after Spoon with hydraulic problems after he had lapped in 1m 41.097s shortly after Sennas incident.
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