Vettel fastest again in P3
World Champion three tenths up on Hamilton in FP3
By Mike Wise in Singapore. Last Updated: September 22, 2012 2:26pm
Sebastian Vettel maintained his perfect record at this year's Singapore Grand Prix by going fastest in the third practice session on Saturday.
The defending World Champion lapped the 5.073km circuit in a time of one minute 47.947seconds in his Red Bull to go 0.325s quicker than McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.
Fernando Alonso was third fastest, his Ferrari being another three tenths slower, with Force India pair Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta fourth and seventh respectively.
Splitting them were the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa's Ferrari. The top 10 was completed by Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, with Williams driver Bruno Senna splitting them.
Mark Webber was 11th for Red Bull after hitting a barrier, with McLaren's Jenson Button 12th fastest.
Vettel, fastest in both of Friday's sessions and also winner here last year, clearly appears to be developing an affinity for the night race.
He also needs a strong result this weekend after the poor form Red Bull have shown of late although, ahead of qualifying and what is the season's longest race, competition appears to be close at hand.
"Sebastian and Singapore seem to match each other very, very well. It's happening again this year. But Lewis is not far behind," noted Sky Sports F1's Johnny Herbert.
Of Vettel's fastest lap, Damon Hill said: "It was a pretty stunning lap. He was pushing all the way, he didn't exactly build up to it and then push at the end, he seemed to be pushing all the way through. So I would say it's going to be difficult for anyone to budge him from that position."
"Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso the top three. No surprises there - it's a street circuit."
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Lotus and Sauber, who both struggled on Friday, were out early, although evidence that Sergio Perez had not improved the balance of his car came when he clouted the barriers at Turn 18.
Hamilton went quickest shortly afterwards with a lap of 1:50.730s, with Button then shaving two-tenths off before Webber split the McLarens while Vettel moved fourth.
With Red Bull running a new front wing in the session, Vettel was on course to go quickest halfway through the session but was forced to slow for yellow flags after Timo Glock's Marussia left the track at Turn 20.
Glock appeared the victim of a jammed throttle, with his car disappearing down the escape road and gently nudging the barrier.
Vettel nevertheless went P1 as soon as he was able to with a 1:49.614s from Alonso, with Senna splitting the two when he became the first driver to switch to the supersoft.
Singapore GP - P3 review
Webber hit the barrier at the same place Perez did with 17 minutes to go but despite both their cars making heavy contact at the right-rear corner, each re-appeared at the end of the session.
Vettel improved by over 1.6s after switching to the option, a benchmark Alonso couldn't match - his Ferrari fastest in sector two but down elsewhere.
Hamilton made a better fist of it but was still three tenths down on Vettel. Hulkenberg and Di Resta also improved in the closing minutes, but the session came to a premature halt when Vitaly Petrov's Caterham gave the barrier its hardest whack yet.
Button's session saw him making front ride-height changes made to his car, suggesting he is not yet happy with its balance.