Lotus F1 Team rounded off the weekend’s final practice session with a strong performance this afternoon in Malaysia as the countdown to qualifying begins. A damp start at the Sepang International circuit quickly cleared, as the shower which preceded Free Practice 3 blew over to reveal beaming sunshine and draining humidity. Nonetheless, with a significant number of wet patches around the track the team opted to send both drivers out on their install laps on the intermediate tyres.
With the standard pre-run checks complete, both Kimi and Romain remained in the garage until a combination of other cars and the sun created enough of a dry line to bolt on a set of slicks.
This they did, promptly emerging from the garage at the halfway stage on matching sets of hard compound Pirelli tyres. Romain immediately shot to the top of the time sheets, closely followed by Kimi in second as the field slowly began to venture further towards the limits of grip on the still drying circuit.
With fast times cropping up here there and everywhere, it became a challenge just to keep up with the running order as the session entered its final stages. After a practice box stop and pull away for the pair, Kimi and Romain were sent out with minutes left on the clock on the medium compound tyre.
Strong runs to end the session saw both drivers sit in the top 5 as the chequered glad dropped. Having racked up 13 laps apiece, Kimi slotted into P4 with a best time 1:37.356, with Romain fractionally behind in P5 having set a 1:37.382.
Pos-Driver--------------Team------------------Time---------------Laps 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m36.877 16 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m37.320s + 0.443 15 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m37.338s + 0.461 12 4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m37.356s + 0.479 13 5. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m37.382s + 0.505 13 6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m37.404s + 0.527 12 7. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m37.455s + 0.578 13 8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m37.663s + 0.786 15 9. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m37.776s + 0.899 8 10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.977s + 1.100 17 11. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m38.091s + 1.214 20 12. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.178s + 1.301 15 13. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m38.246s + 1.369 17 14. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m38.285s + 1.408 16 15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.423s + 1.546 13 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.640s + 1.763 11 17. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m38.794s + 1.917 18 18. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m39.20$s + 2.332 16 19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m39.704s + 2.827 15 20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m40.189s + 3.312 14 21. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m41.901s + 5.024 14 22. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m42.007s + 5.130 14 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m42.464s + 5.587 14 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m43.378s + 6.501 17
On Friday night, the Lotus F1 Team hospitality unit here at the Sepang International Circuit was the victim of a fire, causing the team to abandon ship for the rest of the weekend and seek refuge elsewhere in the paddock.