Final practice - Vettel stays ahead at Yeongam 13 Oct 2012
Just as it seemed that McLarens Lewis Hamilton had reduced the deficit to Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel to a respectable two-tenths of a second in the final practice session for the Korean round on Saturday, the German pulled another rabbit from the hat and opened the gap up again to half a second to confirm that Red Bulls Japanese form was no fluke.
Vettel had the fastest time of 1m 37.970s when Hamilton managed 1m 38.169s in the closing stages of the hour-long session, but then Vettels final run yielded 1m 37.642s to settle the matter.
Behind them, Jenson Button was third for McLaren on 1m 38.511s, whilst the Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen showed that they will be a significant threat in qualifying with laps of 1m 38.582s and 1m 38.666s respectively. That was just what Fernando Alonso didnt need, as the Spaniards Ferrari didnt better 1m 38.705s for sixth.
Mark Webber was seventh for Red Bull on 1m 38.766s ahead of Ferraris Felipe Massa on 1m 38.791s, but the Australian didnt make it out for a super-soft run after a short-lived technical issue kept him in the garage during the sessions closing stages. Although the problem, caused by an incorrect software code for the engine, was fixed by the chequered flag, he simply ran out of time to make it on to the track.
Pastor Maldonado got going strongly for Williams with 1m 38.833s, as Force Indias Nico Hulkenberg posted 1m 38.932s. Sergio Perez was the final runner below 1m 39s, with 1m 38.954s for Sauber.
Mercedes lost ground, with Nico Rosberg 12th and Michael Schumacher (who received a stewards reprimand this morning for impeding the HRTS in FP2) 13th; they lapped in 1m 39.010s and 1m 39.150s respectively, to lead Force Indias Paul di Resta on 1m 39.156s. Saubers Kamui Kobayashi was 15th on 1m 39.345s, ahead of the Toro Rossos of Jean-Eric Vergne on 1m 39.448s and Daniel Ricciardo on 1m 39.537s. Williams Bruno Senna posted 1m 39.706s, encountering a front wing problem along the way which cost him time.
Vitaly Petrov had brake vibration problems on his Caterham but that didnt stop him beating team mate Heikki Kovalainen with 1m 41.114s to 1m 41.437s. Charles Pic was Marussias lead runner on 1m 41.684s, as Timo Glock continued to struggle with his MR-01s balance on his way to 1m 42.062s.
Narain Karthikeyan narrowly beat HRT team mate Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 42.845s to 1m 42.882s, the Indian complaining loudly that he was impeded at one stage by Perez.
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