Spa Practice 3: Alonso sets the pace as the sun shines at last
1 September, 2012
Sep.1 (Apex) Fernando Alonso has become something of a stuck record these days, harping on about how the Ferrari F2012 is not the best car on the grid, but under sunny skies at Spa-Francorchamps it was the best piece of kit out there and propelled the Spaniard to top of the timing screens in the final free practice session of the Belgian GP.
At last the sun came out in the Ardennes and F1 cars were unleashed in anger around the fabled Spa circuit where Alonso has yet to win a grand prix, and on Saturday morning the championship leader looked a strong candidate for race day victory.
Second fastest was the man whom he replaced at Ferrari at the start of 2010; Kimi Raikkonen in the black and gold Lotus is targeting his fifth win at the venue and going about the early business with the attitude of a man intent on victory.
Also strong were the Sauber pair, Ferrari power clearly at home in the forest circuit, with Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi third and fourth respectively. Perez was the first to dip into the 109 seconds zone, shortly after the halfway mark.
Needing a very strong weekend at Spa is Jenson Button, who ended the one hour session fifth fastest and best of the Mercedes powered brigade.
Half a second down on his Spanish teammate was Brazilian Felipe Massa in the other Ferrari, and setting the sixth best time ahead of the Renault powered trio of Mark Webber (Red Bull), Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull).
Both the Red Bulls showed handy top speed – not too common with the world champions lately, with Webber driving with the knowledge that he has a five place grid penalty thanks to an unscheduled gearbox change.
Rounding out the top ten was Paul di Resta in the Force India, making it ten drivers within one second of the top time – 0.840 seconds to be precise – as close as ever!
On the back foot from almost word go was Nico Rosberg who parked his Mercedes after five laps with what appeared to be a transmission problem, the car apparently stuck in sixth gear.
His team mate Michael Schumacher, taking part in his 300th grand prix weekend, ended the session 13th fastest.
The fastest laps came in the last few minutes as drivers did their qualy simulation runs, with Alonso going tops with a slightly ragged lap which was nevertheless better than anyone else was capable of.
But there are still a couple of unknowns in the plot, particularly what the McLaren boys have up their sleeves for qualifying and beyond, because Lewis Hamilton is in far better shape than his 12th place on the timing screens suggests…
Subbed by AJN.
Belgian Grand Prix, Free Practice 3 – Saturday, 1 September 2012
|7||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:49.164||0.622||21|
|9||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:49.292||0.750||23|
|10||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:49.382||0.840||22|
|14||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:49.674||1.132||23|
|22||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:53.383||4.841||22|
- Vettel: My weakness is that I am very stubborn and sometimes too stubborn
- Did a plastic helmet visor tear-off strip end Raikkonen challenge at Spa?
- F1 organisers tried to injure me claims Greenpeace protestor
- FIA could slap a fine on Spa orgaisers for anti-Shell protests
- Ferrari: The result at Spa showed just how competitive our car is
- Vettel: We had massive pace and could control the race until the end
- Alonso: When you are the second fastest, you deserve to finish second
- Hamilton: We’ll be back to being very competitive when we get to Singapore
- Pirelli reports from the Belgian Grand Prix
- Renault reports from the Belgian GP