Red Bull Racing left it late to top the final European Grand Prix practice session, as Sebastian Vettel squeezed Robert Kubica’s time by just over a tenth of a second.
The top of the time sheets were hotly contested throughout the session, with the top twelve separated by less than a second. Fernando Alonso found himself fastest for the majority of the hour and looked confident on Bridgestone’s Prime tyre. However, the local hero could not maintain his stranglehold, as both Red Bull drivers delivered a late flurry of fast laps on the softer option, and eventually settled for fifth.
Although Vettel was first to better the Ferrari driver’s time, he soon found himself outdone by his team-mate Mark Webber – who was also appeared to have plenty in reserve as the Milton Keynes-based squad continue to run its F-duct system.
Robert Kubica once again impressed in his Renault R30 – equipped with its newly-developed blown-diffuser system. The Polish driver found himself on top for a period during the final few minutes of the session, but was eventually outdone by Vettel, who managed to go fastest with a last gasp effort.
Adrian Sutil was yet another surprise in the session, making the most of his Force India to set the fourth fastest time. The pace of the Silverstone-based team was further underlined by team-mate Tonio Liuzzi, who carried over the momentum from his drive in Canada to finish eighth.
However McLaren appeared to struggle throughout the hour as Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton found themselves down in ninth and tenth respectively. However, the Woking outfit may well have plenty in reserve and the true pace of the MP4-25 will surely not be unveiled until qualifying. Hamilton himself was delayed for a considerable period of time, as his mechanics worked on a problem with the front left corner of the car.
Rubens Barrichello gave Williams plenty of encouragement in sixth with Nico Rosberg, who had been right at the sharpend of the field for Friday’s two sessions down in eleventh for Mercedes – nearly eight tenths off the pace.
Rosberg time was still considerably better than team-mate Michael Schumacher, who found himself a distant fifteenth.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:38.052 14 2. Kubica Renault 1:38.154 + 0.102 17 3. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:38.313 + 0.261 13 4. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:38.500 + 0.448 17 5. Alonso Ferrari 1:38.513 + 0.461 18 6. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:38.623 + 0.571 15 7. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:38.676 + 0.624 17 8. Massa Ferrari 1:38.686 + 0.634 16 9. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.769 + 0.717 16 10. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.816 + 0.764 15 11. Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.822 + 0.770 15 12. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:39.050 + 0.998 16 13. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:39.105 + 1.053 15 14. Petrov Renault 1:39.113 + 1.061 16 15. Schumacher Mercedes 1:39.222 + 1.170 14 16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:39.392 + 1.340 18 17. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.527 + 1.475 16 18. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.699 + 1.647 16 19. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:41.303 + 3.251 19 20. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:41.428 + 3.376 20 21. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:41.955 + 3.903 17 22. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.354 + 4.302 18 23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:42.611 + 4.559 18 24. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1:42.622 + 4.570 19