Sebastian Vettel confirmed his status as the favourite for pole position by topping the times in final practice ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix but Romain Grosjean gave Lotus a boost heading into qualifying by finishing a close second. Vettel’s lead was just a tenth of a second over Grosjean while Nico Rosberg edged out the second Red Bull of Mark Webber for third.
The session took a while to get going with conditions not conducive to representative running. After waiting twenty minutes for the track to clean up, Kimi Raikkonen was the first frontrunner to venture out but his teammate Romain Grosjean was the early driver to beat, setting a 1:46.616. The Frenchman was usurped at the halfway point by Lewis Hamilton but Mercedes were only on top briefly while the Red Bulls got up to speed, Webber pulling out a three tenth advantage with Vettel slotting into second.
The order remained unchanged as the drivers waited for the switch to supersofts and when the moment arrived, Grosjean immediately pumped in a 1:44.364, nine tenths of a second quicker than Fernando Alonso could manage at the same time in the Ferrari. Unsurprisingly, Vettel used his option tyres to go straight to the top but the Red Bull’s advantage in sector one didn’t continue for the entire lap with the Lotus reeling it back in through sector two. As a result, the world champion’s 1:44.173 didn’t give him the kind of comfort zone he enjoyed last night.
Rosberg took third ahead of Webber and the German continued to outpace Lewis Hamilton after doing the same in FP2. Alonso was sixth for Ferrari, a worrying 1.084s off the pace, with the McLaren of Sergio Perez close behind in seventh. Nico Hulkenberg delivered the Sauber improvement he had been hoping for by finishing eighth fastest while Jenson Button and Felipe Massa completed the top ten, pushing a subdued Kimi Raikkonen down to twelfth.