Mark Webber fastest in Japanese GP final practice from Lewis Hamilton & Nico Rosberg
Vettel's session cut short by KERS problem
By Mike Wise at Suzuka. Last Updated: 12/10/13 12:14pm
Mark Webber: Fastest in final practice at Suzuka
Mark Webber was fastest in final practice ahead of qualifying for Saturday's Japanese Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel's preparations suffered a hiccup at Suzuka.
Webber set the pace with a time of 1:32.053s around the 5.807km track to end the session 0.134s quicker than the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton's team-mate Nico Rosberg was third fastest as the Silver Arrows' expected challenge continued to materialise, but Red Bull's preparations were hampered when the defending World Champion was unable to complete a qualifying practice run.
Instead, Vettel was out of the car with about 15 minutes to go. A problem with the KERS battery on his RB9 was diagnosed, giving Red Bull's mechanics work to do ahead of the afternoon's all-important session.
Lotus's Romain Grosjean was fourth fastest ahead of the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, with Jenson Button seventh fastest for McLaren.
Kimi Raikkonen was eighth ahead of Vettel, with Nico Hulkenberg overcoming an exhaust problem on his Sauber to go tenth fastest.
Conditions were again sunny but cooler than those on Friday while the gusty wind, which had caught a number of drivers out during opening practice, was again blowing.
The fact it had changed direction, however, created further difficulties. Grosjean, for one, had a number of excursions during the hour while Adrian Sutil's participation was cut short when he lost control exiting Spoon Curve and damaged his Force India's nose and suspension.
Webber (1:32.722s) also set the fastest lap on the prime tyre, with Vettel second fastest at this point. From there on in, however, his name slowly tumbled down the order.
Lotus were the first team to switch to the option, with Grosjean going 0.015s faster than the time Webber had set on the hard tyre.
Alonso and Massa moved respectively third and fourth fastest in the closing moments but Webber was soon P1 again with a time 0.654s quicker than Grosjean's.
Mercedes were the last of the frontrunners to begin their single-lap runs, with Rosberg and then Hamilton moving second.
Elsehwhere, Sergio Perez was 11th in a chassis McLaren had built up from their spare after his Friday crash while Paul di Resta ended the session 15th overall.
Max Chilton was 21st fastest over three seconds faster than Marussia team-mate Jules Bianchi, who was also out in a spare chassis after his shunt on Friday morning.
Qualifying starts at 6am BST.