Final practice - Vettel heads Red Bull one-two 06 Oct 2012
Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber dominated an odd final session of practice at Suzuka on Saturday morning, which ended with several fancied frontrunners in unusual places.
Webber appeared to have things tucked up with a lap of 1m 32.371s until Vettel banged in a 1m 32.136s to settle the issue by 0.235s, while Felipe Massa put Ferrari in the top three with 1m 32.824s.
The McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were only eighth and 13th, with Ferraris Fernando Alonso only 11th and Lotuss Kimi Raikkonen 12th.
Michael Schumacher set the pace initially for Mercedes, and the soon-to-retire multiple champion was still there at the end, in fourth place on 1m 32.918s. But right behind him came the Saubers of Sergio Perez and local hero Kamui Kobayashi, on 1m 32.920s and 1m 32.924s respectively.
Romain Grosjean was Lotuss lead runner as Raikkonen complained of a rear-end instability problem which he suggested might be due to a broken anti-roll bar prompting the team to change the part on his car. The Frenchman managed 1m 33.008s to the Finns eventual 1m 33.244s.
Button recorded 1m 33.025s as things got a bit messy with traffic towards the end of the session. And Hamiltons efforts were frustrated when he came upon a slowing Charles Pic in the chicane; the McLaren just missed the Marussia, and thereafter Hamilton did only slow laps as he saved rubber.
Paul di Resta made up for yesterdays gaffe in his Force India, with ninth fastest time of 1m 33.094s, and this time it was team mate Nico Hulkenbergs turn for grief after he stuffed his VJM05 at the second Degner with 20 minutes left to run.
A late run boosted Pastor Maldonados Williams to 10th place on 1m 33.160s, which just edged out Alonsos 1m 33.184s.
Behind Raikkonen and Hamilton, Jean-Eric Vergne got the upper hand over Toro Rosso partner Daniel Ricciardo, with 1m 33.722s to the Australians 1m 34.023s, and they were separated by Mercedes Nico Rosberg on 1m 33.899s and Williams Bruno Senna on 1m 33.984s.
With Hulkenberg 18th on 1m 34.369s, there was then a gap to the Caterhams of Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov on 1m 35.568s and 1m 36.355s, then the Marussias, with Timo Glock ahead of Pic, 1m 36.389s to 1m 36.517s. It was close with the HRTs, however, as Narain Karthikeyan took his round in 1m 36.649s and Pedro de la Rosa backed him with 1m 36.875s.
Its likely that several of those who met trouble in practice will bounce back in qualifying this afternoon, but the indications are that it will take something special to dislodge the Red Bulls on this downforce track.
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