Practice 3: Alonso fastest as Silverstone circuit finally dries up

 Fernando Alonso ended FP3 top of the timing screens

Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari F2012 ended FP3 top of the timing screens

Jul.7 (GP247) The rain finally stopped over Silverstone, and although the grass areas around the track resembled a swamp, Formula One cars were finally able to run in anger with last year’s British GP winner Fernando Alonso ending the final free practice session top of the timing sheets.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012 spins. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday 7 July 2012.

Fernando Alonso spins during FP3 in the Ferrari F2012

After a rain drenched and frustrating Friday, it was all action on Saturday morning – with many of the grandstands teeming with people despite the chaos all around the venue – as F1 cars queued to get out the pitlane and do some meaningful running.

Alonso, who suffered a broken wing after an excursion on the previous day, was in a feisty mood as he grappled with and harried the Ferrari F2012 around one of the fastest road circuits on the planet. About forty minutes into the session the Spaniard, who has won the British GP twice before, went top of the timing screens.

Not long after, sporting a new updated wing, Alonso spun and parked with about a quarter of an hour to go in the session. His best time of 1 minute 32.167 seconds remained unbeaten.

Teammate Felipe Massa was down in 16th and 1.5 seconds off the top time.

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday 7 July 2012.Jenson Button, defied his current poor form, to post the second best time of the 60 minute session in the McLaren MP4-27. On his final run the McLaren pitwall informed him the lap was “very good on a used set of option tyres.”

The other local hero in the McLaren team, Lewis Hamilton was sixth best 0.157 down on his team mate, but constantly among the top times during the course of the session.

Third quickest was Romain Grosjean, who was also quickest in the rain on Friday morning, proving that the Lotus E20 is capable in all conditions around the high speed Silverstone circuit. Kimi Raikkonen was fifth fastest in the sister car. The pair doing 25 laps each, more than any of their rivals.

Splitting the black and gold cars on the timing sheets was Sebastian Vettel with the fourth best time, also in among the pace setters throughout the session.

Williams were again impressive with Pastor Maldonado setting the seventh best time and team mate Bruno Senna 11th – the latter back in action after seriously wrecking his FW34 in FP2 the previous day. The team did a good job to rebuild the car and have it competitive for the Brazilian.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday 7 July 2012.Also showing handy pace, and probably capable of better than eighth and ninth in the session were the Sauber pair of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi respectively. Both drivers exploring the edge and going over it by spinning on a number of occasion sin the dying moments. In fact Kobayashi might have nabbed top spot on the timing screens had he no spun on his last flying lap.

Nico Hulkenberg was faster of the Force India duo with the 10th best time, with Paul di Resta in 12th.

Big hitters out of the top ten were Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg who ended the session 14th and 18th for Mercedes. Rosberg sat out a large chunk of the session as his team toiled away at the floor of the AMG W03 and as a consequence the German only managed 15 laps in the session.

BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson predicts: “The Ferraris look pretty good with Fernando Alonso fastest while Felipe Massa, 16th fastest, was quickest in the mid-section. The two Ferraris, two McLarens, two Red Bulls, two Saubers and two Williams all look good. Qualifying is going to be about just getting that lap in and keeping the tyres alive until the last lap. I think we will see some very competitive times this afternoon.”

British Grand Prix Free Practice 3 – Saturday, 7 July 2012

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:32.167 21
2 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.320 0.153 20
3 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:32.358 0.191 25
4 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:32.420 0.253 21
5 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:32.454 0.287 25
6 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.477 0.310 20
7 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:32.622 0.455 21
8 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:32.940 0.773 19
9 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.046 0.879 20
10 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:33.150 0.983 19
11 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:33.267 1.100 25
12 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:33.367 1.200 20
13 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:33.398 1.231 24
14 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:33.462 1.295 24
15 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:33.673 1.506 22
16 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:33.674 1.507 21
17 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:33.707 1.540 21
18 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.733 1.566 15
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:34.298 2.131 18
20 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:34.781 2.614 20
21 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:36.605 4.438 18
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:37.060 4.893 14
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:37.269 5.102 23
24 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:37.429 5.262 17