Sebastian Vettel’s impressive form, shown on Friday afternoon, carried over to the final free practice session of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend as he topped the timing sheets for a second time with teammate Mark Webber third fastest and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso splitting the Red Bull pair with the second best time.
Fourth fastest was Jean Eric Vergne showing a good turn of speed in the Toro Rosso, ahead of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari – making it three Ferrari powered cars in the top five.
Fastest Mercedes driver for a the first time in a while was Jenson Button in the McLaren with the sixth best time. Sergio Perez was 16th in the sister car.
Rookie Esteban Gutierrez was impressive, seventh fastest in the Sauber and half a second up on his highly rated teammate Nico Hulkenberg who ended the session 17th.
Things at Spa-Francorchamps have not yet appeared to gel for Lotus so far this weekend, as both their drivers have endured niggles since the first session. In FP3 Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen were eighth and tenth respectively. Further off the pace than expected.
Also apparently struggling or alternatively keeping their powder dry until it really matters was the Mercedes team, with Nico Rosberg ninth fastest and Hungarian GP winner Lewis Hamilton was 12th at the end of the half hour session.
Clearly the smart money will be on Red Bull to do the business in qualifying, with Vettel looking mighty in hot lap mode through the Ardennes forest.
However Mercedes, and to a certain extent Lotus, may be keeping their big guns for the right moments and it will be interesting to see if the Silver Arrows are as mediocre as they have been thus far, and if the boys in black and gold can get their act together in time for qualifying.
Alonso, as has become his custom, will be chasing hard although the Spaniard has not been on the front row in the last 20 races, with his last appearance being his pole in Germany in July 2012. And incredibly he has not been on pole in a dry qualifying since 2010.
And that is what qualifying is likely to hinge upon: the weather, as forecasts are for a dry-then-wet session on Saturday afternoon. If that’s the case then anything is possible. watch this space! (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.
Belgian Grand Prix, Free Practice 3 – Saturday, 24 August 2013
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:48.327||16|
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:48.533||0.206||16|
|13||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:49.122||0.795||15|
|15||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:49.226||0.899||14|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:51.800||3.473||18|