x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Vettel leaves it late to eclipse Webber

German Red Bull Racing driver is quickest round the Circuit de Catalunya in final practice.

Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber, left, won the Spanish Grand Prix last year.
Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber, left, won the Spanish Grand Prix last year.

BARCELONA // Just as it looked like Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber was set to complete a clean sweep of fastest laps at the Spanish Grand Prix's three practice sessions, teammate Sebastian Vettel, the reigning world champion, outdid him.

The German had been forced to sit in his garage for the majority of the morning session at Circuit de Catalunya as engineers worked vigorously on his car. But with 10 minutes left, Vettel lurked out of the pits, proceeded to complete a flying lap and ominously ascended straight to the top of the timesheets. A Red Bull one-two has never looked so guaranteed.

Webber won here last year and after clocking the fastest laps in both of yesterday's sessions looked on course to do similar today. But Vettel's time of one minute 27.707 seconds was 0.084s quicker than his Australian teammate and a massive 1.350s faster than third-placed Michael Schumacher of Mercedes-GP.

McLaren-Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button placed fifth and sixth respectively.

The only driver to complete as few laps as Vettel was Nick Heidfeld, who was forced to stop when his Lotus Renault burst into flames after six laps. He escaped unharmed, but the car could struggle now to be ready for the afternoon's qualifying session.