Jenson Button completed a clean sweep of practice sessions for McLaren at Interlagos. After team mate Lewis Hamilton set the fastest times in both sessions yesterday, today it was the turn of Button who just edged out Sebastian Vettel to end up quickest.
Once again, the lap times were incredibly close, with the top six cars being covered by two tenths of a second. With rain a possibility for the qualifying hour, the session was spent frantically trying to find the best set-up for Sunday.
McLaren continue to have very good straight line speed, which is continuing to give them an advantage, whereas Red Bull seems particularly strong in the technical middle sector of the track. Should qualifying remain dry, it looks like pole position will be fought over by McLaren and Red Bull.
Ferrari appear to be slightly behind, with Fernando Alonso only eighth quickest and Felipe Massa tenth. Romain Grosjean and the two Force Indias split the McLarens and Red Bulls from the Ferraris.
The session passed largely without incident despite the typical lock-ups that we’ve already become use to seeing this weekend. Only Kimi Raikkonen was unable to set a time.
The Abu Dhabi race winner had a disrupted Friday, and things got no better for him in the final practice session of the season, as his engine expired in spectacular fashion not long into proceedings. He was therefore left stranded at the side of the track having been unable to set a lap time.
Mercedes also appeared to struggle. The German manufacturer showed good pace yesterday, and despite heading the times during the early running of the one hour session, dropped to twelfth and fifteenth fastest for Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher respectively.
With cars going onto the option tyre towards the end of the session to complete qualifying simulations, there were plenty of changes on the timing sheets. Button, having set the fastest lap time on the prime went faster on the option and his lap time of 1:13.188 kept him fastest at the end of the hour, with Vettel only 0.057 behind. Webber was third, ahead of Hamilton, with Grosjean, Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the top seven.
With lap times so close and weather posing a threat to proceedings, we are in for a thrilling final qualifying session of the year, which starts at 4pm UK time.