By Max Davies, F1 Correspondent
- Vettel lays down fast time in third practice
- Webber second fast for Red Bull 1-2
- HRT might not make the Australian GP grid
2010 World Champion Vettel Fastest In Australian Grand Prix Third Practice
Defending Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel set the fast lap in final free practice before official qualifying begins for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.
Amid blustery and slightly warmer conditions than yesterday, the Red Bull driver laid down a marker in preparation for qualifying by setting a searing pace around the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne.
Unable to match his pace setting form yesterday, Jenson Button claimed 4th in the sister McLaren with a 1m25.567s, just ahead of Vitaly Petrov's Lotus Renault. The Russian impressed once more, posting a best lap of 1m25.906 and finishing over 0.2s quicker than Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari on a 1m26.121s.
Kamui Kobayashi took 7th for Sauber with a 1m26.417s followed by Mercedes GP drivers Nico Rosberg (1m26.520s) and Michael Schumacher (1m26.856s) who were separated by the Lotus Renault of Nick Heidfeld who's best lap of 1m26.746s was only good enough for 9th position.
Toro Rosso claimed 11th and 13th courtesy of Sebastien Buemi and Jamie Algersuari respectively with a lackluster Felipe Massa separating the two in 12th for Ferrari.
Enjoying his first taste of Formula 1 on a Saturday, former Friday test driver and 2011 rookie Paul Di Resta laid down a marker within Force India by finishing one place ahead of his team mate Adrian Sutil in 14th.
Williams endured troublesome session with Rubens Barrichello experiencing some mechanical issues on his way to 16th while his Venezuelan team mate Pastor Maldonado closed on 21st place.
Sergio Perez headed a Team Lotus charge, the Sauber driver finishing 17th ahead of Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli in 18th and 19th positions respectively. Marussia Virgin Racing took 20th and 22nd positions with Timo Glock ahead of Jerome D'Ambrosio while as usual, Hispania propped up the field in 23rd and 24th although Narain Karthikeyan managed to post a single flying lap while team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi sat in the garage throughout the hour-long session.
Qualifying is next on the schedule and with it, comes the first opportunity to see who really has the race-winning pace, who need to work on their cars to get some, and who can totally forget about harboring such thoughts.