Vettel and Webber keep Red Bull out in front

Red Bull Racing led the way Saturday’s free practice session, as rivals McLaren faced a race against time to set up its two cars.

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were quiet for the majority of the session – happy to wait until the final part of the hour to show their hand. The Milton Keynes-based team felt comfortable enough to split their strategy, with Webber focusing on long runs and his team-mate completing shorter stints.

However Red Bull’s session did not run trouble free when, during his final run, the front nose section on Sebastian Vettel’s car came loose on the run down to Abbey; pushing the car down to the ground and forcing the German to coast back to the pits.

Despite this Vettel’s time of 1:30.958 could not be bettered by the chasing pack, with his team-mate only 0.034 of a second behind.

Fernando Alonso finished the session just over a tenth away from Vettel’s time. The Spanish Ferrari driver had set the early pace in the session, but could not respond to Red Bull’s late charge when his car developed a suspected problem and was forced to wait in the garage to be examined.

Nico Rosberg was right behind in his Mercedes with Alonso’s team-mate, Felipe Massa, and the Renault of Robert Kubica fifth and sixth respectively.

Meanwhile McLaren appeared unable to challenge Red Bull, as the Woking-based team worked frantically to make up for lost time, after opting to ditch its ‘blown diffuser’ concept in favour of an earlier interpretation.

As a result, Lewis Hamilton could do no more than set the seventh fastest time, nearly six tenths off Vettel, with Jenson Button a lowly twelfth.

As well as Alonso and Vettel, a number of other drivers were not able to complete the session untrouble. Jarno Trulli continued to be frustrated, when the Italian was once again forced to sit out most of the session with a hydraulic failure on his Lotus.

Adrian Sutil (Force India) was also forced to sit out the final ten minutes with a suspected gearbox problem.

Pos  Driver         Team                    Time              Laps
1.   Vettel         Red Bull-Renault        1:30.958            14
2.   Webber         Red Bull-Renault        1:30.992  + 0.034   15
3.   Alonso         Ferrari                 1:31.101  + 0.143   10
4.   Rosberg        Mercedes                1:31.188  + 0.230   15
5.   Massa          Ferrari                 1:31.240  + 0.282   16
6.   Kubica         Renault                 1:31.519  + 0.561   18
7.   Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes        1:31.549  + 0.591   16
8.   Schumacher     Mercedes                1:31.555  + 0.597   14
9.   de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari          1:31.559  + 0.601   18
10.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth       1:31.581  + 0.623   16
11.  Petrov         Renault                 1:31.698  + 0.740   17
12.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:31.703  + 0.745   16
13.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth       1:31.867  + 0.909   17
14.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari          1:31.947  + 0.989   16
15.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes    1:31.994  + 1.036   13
16.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:32.235  + 1.277   18
17.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:32.331  + 1.373   20
18.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes    1:32.723  + 1.765   18
19.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth          1:34.339  + 3.381   20
20.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth         1:35.479  + 4.521   17
21.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth          1:36.098  + 5.140   11
22.  Chandhok       HRT-Cosworth            1:36.286  + 5.328   16
23.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth         1:36.640  + 5.682    6
24.  Yamamoto       HRT-Cosworth            1:37.178  + 6.220   18