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Final practice - Vettel top as battle intensifies 27 Oct 2012

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 26 October 2012 A flying Lewis Hamilton and his replacement for next year at McLaren, Sergio Perez, get close on the approach to Turn 10 Mark Webber loses the back end of his Red Bull. He is currently only eighth, whilst team mate Vettel tops the timesheet with a sub-1m 26s lap Nico Rosberg has an early excursion into the gravel, despite making good progress with the car's set-up during yesterday's sessions

The times tightened up again in Saturday's final practice session for the 2012 Formula 1 Airtel Indian Grand Prix, as everybody did their best on low fuel loads on the soft Pirelli tyres.

Sebastian Vettel was still the fastest man for Red Bull, with 1m 25.842s, but he finished the hour-long run only 0.192s ahead of Jenson Button's McLaren after the Englishman lapped in 1m 26.034s. Mark Webber was right behind him on 1m 26.108s, after an earlier spin in Turn 16, while a wild slide out of the final corner kept Lewis Hamilton down to 1m 26.151s and fourth place.

Lotus's increased pace was maintained as Kimi Raikkonen took fifth on 1m 26.209s, and the Finn was just ahead of the super on-form Bruno Senna on 1m 26.214s for Williams.

It wasn't such a great session for Ferrari; Fernando Alonso was only seventh on 1m 26.521s and Felipe Massa 11th on 1m 26.691s. The red cars were separated by Nico Hulkenberg on 1m 26.531s for Force India with Michael Schumacher Mercedes' leading runner in ninth on 1m 26.652s ahead of Lotus's Romain Grosjean on 1m 26.664s.

Pastor Maldonado was upstaged by Senna on this occasion and could only manage 12th fastest time on 1n 27.140s in his Williams, with a late run moving Sergio Perez up to 13th on 1m 27.162s for Sauber at the expense of Paul di Resta, who lapped his Force India in 1m 27.193s. Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was next on 1m 27.229s, ahead of the more closely matched Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne on 1m 27.374s and 1m 27.711s respectively. Kamui Kobayashi rounded out the bracket with 1m 27.983s in the other Sauber.

Heikki Kovalainen once again narrowly beat Caterham partner Vitaly Petrov, with 1m 29.035s to 1m 29.237s, with Timo Glock lapping his Marussia in the same territory with 1m 27.617s. Charles Pic was 22nd in the other MR01 on 1m 30.298s, from the HRTs of Narain Karthikeyan on 1m 30.824s and Pedro de la Rosa on 1m 30.873s.

The signs are that qualifying will be an intense battle, especially in the upper midfield.

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