Brazil practice 3: Button steps up
SWITCHING MCLAREN ROLES: Jenson Button went fastest in the third and final free practice session at Interlagos after his team mate, Lewis Hamilton, dominated both Friday sessions.
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Jenson Button lapped fastest in the final practice of the Formula 1 season in Brazil on Saturday, November 24, 2012 with Red Bull's championship leader Sebastian Vettel close behind.
Vettel, who is 13 points clear of sole rival Fernando Alonso, was 0.057 slower than the Briton whose team mate Lewis Hamilton dominated both of Friday's sessions at Interlagos.
Ferrari's Alonso, who must finish on the podium in what looks likely to be a rain-hit race on Sunday if he is to have a hope of securing his third title and deny Vettel a hat-trick, was eighth fastest.
MCLAREN IN WITH A CHANCE?
Even if the Spaniard were to win the race in Brazil, his championship efforts will be in vain if Vettel finishes fourth or higher.
Button's time of one minute 13.188 was comfortably the fastest of the weekend so far and suggested McLaren could make life very difficult for the title contenders.
However much will depend on the rain holding off until after qualifying later on Saturday, with some forecasts suggesting the final session could be wet.
The frontrunners will need no reminding that in 2010, Germany's Nico Hulkenberg put his Williams on pole against all the odds in just such tricky weather conditions.
Australian Mark Webber was third fastest on Saturday with Hamilton fourth ahead of his final qualifying session for McLaren before moving to Mercedes in 2013.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean was fifth fastest for Lotus but his team mate Kimi Raikkonen, winner in Abu Dhabi earlier in November, managed only three laps before pulling over with a cloud of smoke coming from his car's blown engine.
The Force Indias of Paul Di Resta and Hulkenberg lapped sixth and seventh fastest.
Brazilian Bruno Senna, whose place at Williams looks uncertain, spun and forced Michael Schumacher to take avoiding action.
Sunday's race will be seven-times champion Schumacher's last, with the 43-year-old heading into retirement after a disappointing comeback with Mercedes. The German was 15th fastest.
Final free practice session from the Brazilian F1 at Interlagos:
1 Jenson Button McLaren 1min13.188sec
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1min13.245
3 Mark Webber Red Bull 1min13.385
4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1min13.389
5 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1min13.420
6 Paul Di Resta Force India 1min13.486
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1min13.602
8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1min13.691
9 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1min13.700
10 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1min13.712
11 Bruno Senna Williams 1min13.948
12 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1min14.126
13 Sergio Perez Sauber 1min14.190
14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1min14.192
15 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1min14.347
16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1min14.687
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1min14.972
18 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1min15.159
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1min15.707
20 Timo Glock Marussia 1min15.763
21 Charles Pic Marussia 1min16.059
22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1min16.198
23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1min16.793
24 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus No Time
Second free practice session
First free practice session
Stay with Wheels24 for the Brazilian F1 GP