Vettel completes practice hat-trick!

Sebastian Vettel’s completed a dominant free practice hat-trick by topping the times in the final session ahead of qualifying.

The Red Bull driver ended the session over three tenths clear of Lewis Hamilton after an incident filled hour long that saw a red flag bring it to a premature close after Vitaly Petrov suffered rear suspension damage after clouting the Armco barriers at the penultimate corner.

With the teams trying various qualifying setups and using the super-soft tyres in these closing moments it is difficult to get a complete picture of what will be presented in qualifying but with Vettel having topped all three sessions he is clearly the man to beat.

McLaren have been the closest challenger to Vettel so far this weekend, both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have finished sessions in second place, so it is clear that the team that won the last three races are well placed to challenge for another race win.

The challenge from Ferrari however is unclear. The team have kept their powder dry for most of the weekend but in FP3 Alonso was on the pace immediately and challenged Vettel throughout before ended the evening third fastest.

The Ferrari looked very good through the fast change of direction corners and both Alonso and Massa were exceptionally quick through the Turn 10 chicane. If they can replicate this advantage in qualifying they will be very well placed. Alonso and Felipe Massa only completed 24 laps between them in the session but with both drivers finishing in the top six it is clear that the F2012 is working well in Singapore.

The Lotus however has struggled for most of the weekend. Kimi Riakkonen did well to take fifth but consolidating that position in qualifying will be difficult. Nico Hulkenberg, fourth fastest, continues to impress for Force India.

The young German has improved steadily throughout the year as he readapts to life in Formula 1. He outpaced his teammate, Paul di Resta, once again in this session and another strong effort from the team looks likely this weekend.

Both drivers have been evenly matched over the course of the season, with di Resta just one point ahead in the championship, and the team has moved clear of Williams in the fight for seventh in the constructors’ championship. They will however need to have a strong showing this weekend as Williams looks primed for a very competitive race.

Bruno Senna was ninth fastest, and the first driver to try the option tyre this evening, and while Pastor Maldonado was well off the pace in FP3 his times from yesterday show the potential for the Renault powered squad this weekend.

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