Rosberg leads way in Sepang

2012-03-24 08:55

SEPANG, Malaysia - Nico Rosberg laid down a marker ahead of qualifying in the third and final free practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday, lapping almost half a second quicker than his rivals.

In a session that started slowly on a damp track following a late-morning downpour, the Mercedes driver topped the time sheets with a 1min36.877 lap as the leading drivers leap-frogged each other in a flurry of late fast times.

The Red Bulls showed that their poor performance in Friday's second session was a minor blip as World champion Sebastian Vettel and team mate Mark Webber clocked the next fastest times ahead of a resurgent Kimi Raikkonen.


Vettel finished 0.443sec behind Rosberg as the teams opted to put the cars in qualifying mode after it took 28 minutes of the hour-long session before anyone completed a timed lap.

Lewis Hamilton, who dominated both Friday sessions, was less fortunate on Saturday when the Briton ran off into the gravel on his first timed lap and returned to the pits with shredded tyres.

The 2008 World champion managed just one more quick lap in the final 10 minutes but was still 0.899sec off the pace set by Rosberg and down in ninth place.

Raikkonen, fitted with a new gearbox that will cost him five places on the starting grid, gave an indication that his Lotus will be competitive in Sunday's race, his form backed up by team mate Romain Grosjean, who was just behind in fifth.


Jenson Button, who won the season-opener in Melbourne last week, was sixth-fastest in the other McLaren, ahead of an impressive Pastor Maldonado in a Williams and Michael Schumacher's Mercedes.

Ferrari was again unable to keep pace with the leaders and could struggle to make the latter stages of qualifying later on Saturday as Fernando Alonso was only able to manage a 13th fastest time, five places ahead of team mate Felipe Massa.

Stay with Wheels24 for the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend!

Third free practice times from the 2012 Malaysian Formula 1 GP:
1 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min36.877 seconds
2 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 1min37.320
3 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 1min37.338
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Finland) Lotus 1min37.356
5 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus    1min37.382
6 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min37.404
7 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min37.455
8 Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes 1min37.663
9 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1min37.776
10 Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber 1min37.977
11 Bruno Senna (Brazil)    Williams 1min38.091
12 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber 1min38.178
13 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min38.246
14 Nico Hülkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min38.285
15 Daniel Ricciardo (Australian) Toro Rosso 1min38.423
16 Jean-Eric Vergne (France)    Toro Rosso 1min38.640
17 Paul di Resta (Britain) Force India 1min38.794
18 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min39.209
19 Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham 1min39.704
20 Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham    1min40.189
21 Charles Pic (France)    Marussia 1min41.901
22 Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia 1min42.007
23 Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT    1min42.464
24 Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT 1min43.378

Second free practice times:

1 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1min38.172 seconds
2 Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes 1min38.533
3 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min38.535
4 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min38.696
5 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 1min38.853
6 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min38.891
7 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 1min39.133
8 JeanEric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min39.297
9 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min39.311
10 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 1min39.402
11 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min39.444
12 Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min39.464
13 Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India 1min39.625
14 Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber 1min39.687
15 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus 1min39.696
16 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min40.271
17 Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams 1min40.678
18 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber 1min40.947
19 Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham 1min41.464
20 Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia  1min41.681
21 Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham 1min42.594
22 Charles Pic (France) Marussia 1min42.874
23 Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT 1min43.658
24 Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT 1min43.823

First free practice times:

1 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1min38.021 seconds
2 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull 1min38.535
3 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min38.813
4 Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes 1min38.826
5 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min38.919
6 Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull 1min39.092
7 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus 1min39.128
8 Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India1min39.298
9 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min39.323
10 Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min39.440
11 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 1min39.724
12 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min39.783
13 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min39.896
14 Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber 1min39.910
15 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min39.980
16 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min40.099
17 Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham 1min40.247
18 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 1min40.469
19 Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham 1min40.857
20 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Ferrari 1min41.085
21. Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia 1min43.170
22 Charles Pic (France) Marussia 1min44.580
23 Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT 1min45.360
24 Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT 1min45.528