12/05/12 - 10:00
Spanish Grand Prix
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya • Free Practice 3

Free Practice 3

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Right then, that's FP3 - each of the sessions topped by a different car (Ferrari, Mercedes, Re Bull) and it will be anybody's game in qualifying. Join us LIVE for that at 13:00 UK time!


P1 for Sebastian Vettel 1:23.168, and there;s the chequered flag.


Some quick times late on here, and it's Pastor Maldonado who comes out on top with a 1:23.336, the fastest lap of the weekend so far!


Lewis Hamilton runs into trouble late on a fast lap. Kimi Raikkonen and an HRT - Karthikeyan - get in the Brit's way. He was on pace for P1, but that hold-up cost him two seconds. Still, it's only practice.


P4 on softs for Jenson Button - 1:23.909.


Ferrari engines 1-2-3 - Perez (Sauber), Alonso (Ferrari), Vergne (Toro Rosso).


OK, that was a false alarm - Vettel is back. His problem has been fixed, and it may well be he was just going for a pee. Fair enough.


P2 for Fernando Alonso, who is less than a tenth of a second off the pace. He will be desperate to perform in front of a home crowd.


Seb Vettel has left the pits, and it would appear he will not be back this hour. A minor setback for the world champion.


Helmet on for Romain Grosjean - he may well be heading back out before the end of the hour.


Problems for Sebastian Vettel. While Mark Webber tears round on soft tyres, Vettel is in the pits with half a dozen mechanics standing over the cockpit of his car. He evidently has a problem.


Just to remind you, tyre compounds are indicated by the colour of the writing on the sidewalls. It's white for medium, yellow for soft and red for super-soft.


Soft tyres starting to come out, and Sergio Perez clocks a 1:23.7.


Felipe Massa runs wide, and Jenson Button has a whinge over the radio about a lack of grip. Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg goes P1.


Kimi Raikkonen has been having a moan about understeer to the Lotus team. He's down in P10.


And on the subject of pitstops, here is an excellent article by Will Gray on the fancy whizz-bang technology being employed these days.


Lewis Hamilton comes into the pits for a change of steering wheel - apparently just a practice run. McLaren have had their share of pitstop woes this season, of course.


Tyre fans may be interested to know that nobody has yet employed soft rubber so far today.


Nice onboard shot with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne, who absolutely flings his car into the pitlane. It's terrifying - and impressive - stuff.


It's a very quiet session - just five drivers on the track. One of them is Pastor Maldonado, who goes P2 with a 1:24.571.


Speaking to Sky, Romain Grosjean sounds doubtful about his chances of getting back out on the track in this session.


Lewis Hamilton goes wide off the racing line and nearly loses it on the dusty run-off area. he backs off and returns to the track.


Sergio Perez goes P1 in the Sauber - those Perez-to-Ferrari rumours have cooled a little since Malaysia, when he was widely considered a shoo-in to step into Felipe Massa's car.


Right, we're getting some timed laps at last - 1:25.158 for Nico Rosberg. That's nearly two seconds slower than Button clocked yesterday afternoon.


Incidentally, going back briefly to the weather, it promises to stay sunny throughout qualifying. A few clouds will gather later on, but we are set fair for a warm day.


Yellow flag, there is a stationary Lotus just off the main drag. Romain Grosjean has ground to a fault. 'What's going on?' asks Grosjean. 'Lost fuel pressure' comes the reponse from the pits.


It is a hot day in North-East Spain - 27C already at 11:16 local time, and with a track termperature of 38C.


Sensing some free air time, Marussia send Charles Pic out on track. We are treated to a long on-board shot with the Frenchman - from which we may conclude that while the Marussia is not good by F1 standards, it is still a very, VERY fast car.


Excuse the prattle, but there is not a single car on the track right now.


And here's a story that will have been clicked on by lots of people thinking it referred to Valentino. It doesn't. Nor Francis, nor even Giuseppe.


We come to Barcelona off the back of an in-season test at Mugello, but McLaren and Red Bull are sceptical about the worth of the exercise. Said Red Bull's Adrian Newey: "We all spent money but the value of in-season testing has to be questionable."


Mark Webber thinks some teams will not bother trying to go for pole in Q3: "We could see people sit out Q3, those that just get into Q3, and they will do that to save tyres." Will Red Bull be among them?


Yesterday afternoon, Jenson Button overcame understeer issues to put his McLaren to the top of the timesheets. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was fastest in the morning.


As usual, the entire field has done an installation lap, but no full timed laps yet. While we wait, let's catch up on the weekend's main storylines.


This is the final session ahead of qualifying later today. This one just an hour, as opposed to the two 90-minute stints on Friday.


Welcome to live coverage of free practice 3 from the Spanish GP at Montmelo!