At 11:00 Brazilian time (15:00 British time), the skies around Sao Paulo were as black as could be. The rain was falling and the session was delayed as the medical helicopter was unable to take off.
There was only one hour available due to FIA rules, which state that there must be no less than two hours between practice three and qualifying. By 11:30 the rain was still falling, thunder was bellowing out around the circuit, and I was becoming ever more confident that we weren’t going to see any action at all!
But what did this mean for Brawn? Well, it wasn’t good news! Although Jenson had looked pretty good yesterday, neither driver had actually found a balance set up for qualifying and Rubens had looked extremely shaky in practice two.
Thankfully, with just 15 minutes to go, the session was opened by Fisichella, Kovalainen, and Rosberg. The Italian Ferrari driver went straight back into the pits, so it was the McLaren of Kovalainen that set the first time of 1:31:716.
The Fin’s time was quickly bettered by Rosberg, who along with Nakajima looked very strong throughout practice three. Was this genuine Williams pace?
Rubens left the pits relatively early but worryingly went straight back in again. Meanwhile, Jens set his first time of 1:30:757 which put him P5 of 5.
With 10 minutes left there were only five times up and Rosberg was top with a 1:25:060. Jenson clearly found some speed and climbed to P4, before finishing up in P3 with a 1:24:122.
Both Renaults had been off, but when Grosjean hit a huge puddle and smashed the front end of his car up the session was red flagged an effectively over.
Rubens did manage to set a time of 1:26:530 (P14) but he probably will not be particularly confident going into qualifying.
So we only got 12 minutes of practice three but who looks good for this afternoon? Many believe that Hamilton was doing the right thing finding speed and gathering intel. Similarly the Red Bulls seemed to be doing a good job in their short stint. The Williams looked very quick, but I’m not sure if that means anything at this stage. What of the Brawns then?
Personally I believe Jenson did a great job. He went out, found speed and finished third. However, some commentators believe that Brawn failed to carry out sufficient tyre and break tests which will significantly disadvantage them later on.
I unfortunately don’t expect much from Rubens as he looked no better today than he did yesterday. Of course we did only see 12 minutes of action today, but if you ask me the top 10 shoot out should be a corker with the Red Bulls and McLaren battling it out for pole, and Jenson looking good for a top five finish.
As for Rubens, I hope he finds the speed he needs.
Pos No Driver Team Time/Retired Gap Laps
1 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:23.182 9
2 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:23.832 0.650 7
3 22 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:24.122 0.940 6
4 7 Fernando Alonso Renault 1:24.125 0.943 5
5 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:24.149 0.967 4
6 8 Romain Grosjean Renault 1:24.389 1.207 5
7 12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:24.443 1.261 5
8 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:24.859 1.677 5
9 6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:24.867 1.685 5
10 14 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:25.440 2.258 5
11 4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:25.508 2.326 4
12 2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.685 2.503 5
13 11 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:26.224 3.042 6
14 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:26.530 3.348 4
15 15 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:27.047 3.865 4
16 21 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:27.341 4.159 4
17 1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.798 4.616 4
18 3 Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari 1:29.285 6.103 4
19 5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:29.895 6.713 3
20 10 Kamui Kobayashi Toyota 1:30.259 7.077 4