Germany’s Adrian Sutil delivered a Formula One rarity yesterday when he topped the times for the Force India team in final free practice for today’s European Grand Prix.
The 26-year-old driver delivered a best lap of 1 minute, 39.143 seconds on an incident-filled morning that saw the one-hour session red-flagged when Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull suffered an engine failure. The German’s car left a pool of oil and some debris on the track and this required lengthy clearing up, leaving an area of white cement dust powder and a doughy compound on the asphalt surface.
The interruption meant that the session was a poor indication for likely form in the afternoon qualifying session.
Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima was second fastest for Williams ahead of Pole Robert Kubica, in a BMW Sauber, with under-pressure Finn Heikki Kovalainen fourth for McLaren Mercedes.
Sutil rose to the top of the times just before Vettel’s engine failure after defending drivers world champion Briton Lewis Hamilton of McLaren had been the early pace-setter on a dirty, dusty street circuit in the harborside surroundings of the Mediterannean city.
When the circuit reopened for the final four minutes of action, Sutil’s earlier best time was overhauled, but he responded with the best lap of the weekend.
Germany’s Nico Rosberg wound up fifth for Williams ahead of Italian Giancarlo Fisichella in the second Force India, championship leader Briton Jenson Button in his Brawn GP, Hamilton, Italian Jarno Trulli of Toyota and French rookie Romain Grosjean of Renault, who was 10th.
This meant that drivers like Australian Mark Webber and his Red Bull partner Vettel finished up 17th and 18th.
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