After Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton set the pace in both Friday sessions, Red Bull Racing took over at the top of the timesheets in final practice, with Sebastian Vettel quickest and Mark Webber taking P2.
In the final qualifying-style runs at the end of the one-hour session Webber initially set the pace, carving eight tenths of a second off his medium tyre best with a lap of 1:38.132 on the supersoft tyre. He then shaved a little more off that to set a benchmark of 1:38.018.
Vettel wouldn’t be denied, however, and looking strong on the option tyre, he went just over a tenth quicker to record the first sub 1 minute 38 second lap with a time of 1:37.881.
Neither Mercedes driver had an answer to that. Nico Rosberg took third place, four tenths down on Vettel’s time and Hamilton slotted into fourth 0.014 of a second behind his team-mate. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was fifth, six tenths down on title rival Vettel.
Romain Grosjean was sixth for Lotus ahead of Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari, who looked more comfortable on the supersoft tyre than the medium. Eighth place was take by Kimi Raikkonen in the second Lotus, with Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg ninth and Jenson Button tenth for McLaren.
In the first medium-tyre phase of the session, it was Hamilton who was quickest. Webber and Vettel set the pace for the bulk of the opening 45 minutes, with the pair swapping fastest laps, but as the field began gradually began to make its way back to the garage to consider the switch to supersofts, Hamilton popped up with a time of 1:38.860, just under a tenth quicker than Webber.