Grosjean tops rain-hit practice

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The practice sessions of yesterday have suggested that Red Bull is firmly on top of the pecking order but it’s an unlikely circumstance as they used to hide their pace on Fridays, were they too exposed or pressure building up? Nonetheless, it has been all rushing hours in FP3 as rain was expected to hit during the half-way mark and the session was off in an overcast weather.

Esteban Gutierrez was the first out on track and immediately other drivers started heading out on track to post lap times. Webber initially was on top with the time of 1:31:171 – five seconds slower than the fastest time set by vettel. As the track rubbered in, Alonso quickly coasted to top  bettering Webber by over three seconds. Under steer issues haunted Mclaren so bad since FP1 and it continued on.

As the wind picked up, the track was found busy as drivers tried to find the grip level nzzeeded on soft tyres before rain poured in. Massa eventually beat Alonso to head the timing charts and behind the Ferraris Sutil, Resta, Vergne and  Ricciardo were all there. While Alonso rose to top again Webber’s lap was only good enough for p9. Pic was cautioned about rain on the radio to switch to options.

Meanwhile, Grosjean went fastest by 0.071s and Rosberg splitted Vettel and Webber for p10. Perez got out of his and engine cover was removed for further changes to suite the prevailing track conditions only to lose him a lot of track time.  Hulkenber and Gutierrez set similar times at once while Webber’s radio reported rain on final turn. It was so close as top eight drivers were separated by only a mere second.

As the rain came in, drivers retreated to their respective pits and Martin Whitmarsh suggested that it mightn’t be possible to run his cars as there won’t be enough tyres left if the track conditions are about to stay the same for Qualifying and race. It was applicable for other teams as well but for Jenson and Mclaren who only had a run of five laps a complete crisis.

The track temperature was down to 21 degree and with 24 minutes left to go Massa stepped up to the occasion and bravely made his way out to track on full wets. He under steered on T1 as wet patches caught him out and set a time 22s slower than Grosjean did on dry track. As the track got drier, Gutierrez headed out on inters followed by Hamilton, Webber, Vettel and Button. Rosberg complained about under steer and felt that his rear end was completely loose.

Red Bull played it close to their chests as no real pace was shown in the whole session but for Vettel though reliability problems cropped up as he stopped his car on the sides of Turn 4 in the dying minutes of practice due to a sensor issue. Maldonado ran into grass before the pit entry as he tried to give space to Esteban. He along withVan Der Garde and few other drivers slid off on grass at Turn 1. Raikkonen was doing a handy job on the drying out track as he lapped a time of 1:38s and Gutierrez with a time of 1:37:18.

With a couple of minutes left on clock, most of the top teams went back to the pits and Grosjean’s time remained unbeaten ahead of the Ferraris untill the end. Hamilton was last after having no dry run at all. Hulkenberg has been handed a €1000 fine for speeding in the pit-lane and Sutil is under investigation for DRS use in wet conditions.

FP3 Results: Grosjean, Alonso, Massa, Resta, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Vergne, Sutil, Hulk, Gutierrez, Rosberg, Vettel, Webber, Bianchi, Der Garde, Pic, Button, Perez, Pastor, Bottas, Chilton and Hamilton.

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