Spa Practice 3: Vettel fastest as Alonso splits the Red Bulls

Sebastian Vettel fastest in FP3 at Spa

Sebastian Vettel fastest in FP3 at Spa

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.

Fernando Alonso second fastest in FP2

Fernando Alonso second fastest in FP2

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.

Jean Eric Vergne

Jean Eric Vergne fourth fastest

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

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:48.327 16
2 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:48.432 0.105 14
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:48.533 0.206 16
4 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:48.776 0.449 15
5 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:48.788 0.461 15
6 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:48.882 0.555 13
7 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:48.930 0.603 18
8 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:48.967 0.640 14
9 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:48.993 0.666 16
10 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:49.008 0.681 17
11 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:49.035 0.708 15
12 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:49.046 0.719 17
13 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:49.122 0.795 15
14 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:49.177 0.850 15
15 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:49.226 0.899 14
16 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:49.417 1.090 14
17 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:49.478 1.151 19
18 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:50.418 2.091 14
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:51.416 3.089 15
20 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:51.800 3.473 18
21 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:52.221 3.894 17
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:53.507 5.180 18
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