Belgium FP3: Bottas signals his intent

Valtteri Bottas fastest in FP3

Valtteri Bottas fastest in FP3

Williams driver Valtteri Bottas signalled his intent as he topped the timing sheets at the end of final free practice session of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, with Hungarian Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo ending up second best in the Red Bull.

The session started off on a damp Spa-Francorchamps race track , but with sun shining brightly over the Ardennes, a dry line soon developed and everyone had a go with both sets of tyres, the hour session ending with a flurry of fast laps.

Fastest of all was Bottas, with Ricciardo next best. The pair, who are the revelations of 2014, have in recent races been the most likely to give the Mercedes boys a hard time and again it appears that they will rise to the occasion at the sport’s most daunting venue.

Notably Bottas’ best time of 1:49.465 was a quarter second up on Ricciardo’s effort, and 0.274 of a second faster than Nico Rosberg’s top time in the Mercedes.

Daniel Ricciardo second fastest

Daniel Ricciardo second fastest

For the first time since FP3 at Silverstone a Silver Arrows has not topped the the timing screens at the end of a free practice session. Lewis Hamilton was fifth fastest, his time of 1:49.817 identical to Kimi Raikkonen’s best which was good enough for fourth.

The Finn appearing more comfortable in the F14T at a venue where he has excelled often in the past. Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso was sixth .

Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat continued to impress on his first visit to Spa as a Formula 1 driver, ending the session seventh fastest and half a second up on more experienced teammate Jean Eric Vergne in the sister car who finished tenth best.

Best of the McLaren duo was Jenson Button in eighth, with first time F1 visitor to Spa Kevin Magnussen in 12th.

Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg third fastest

Almost a second down on his pace setting Williams teammate was Felipe Massa, while Sebastian Vettel was on the back foot in the aftermath of a frustrating, problem packed first day in Belgium – the world champion 13th and over a second down on Red Bull teammate Ricciardo.

World champion team boss Christian Horner summed up the morning session, “It is only Saturday morning, it was a good lap at the end by Daniel Ricciardo, the circuit was getting better and better. Now we will see what the weather does.”

“We just tried a few different things between all the cars. Sebastian Vettel missed a lot yesterday so we just tried a few things. Anyone with a Mercedes engine will be quick here, Williams were fast on the straights but it looks like Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso will be fast here too,” he predicted. (GP247)

Belgian Grand Prix, Free Practice 3 – Saturday, 23 August 2014
Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:49.465 12
2 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:49.733 0.268 9
3 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:49.739 0.274 13
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:49.817 0.352 9
5 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:49.817 0.352 13
6 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:49.890 0.425 9
7 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:49.893 0.428 11
8 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:50.203 0.738 11
9 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:50.423 0.958 11
10 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 1:50.535 1.070 10
11 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:50.592 1.127 12
12 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:50.748 1.283 11
13 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:50.814 1.349 10
14 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:50.866 1.401 11
15 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:50.962 1.497 12
16 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:51.509 2.044 9
17 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:51.610 2.145 10
18 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:51.898 2.433 15
19 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:52.457 2.992 14
20 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:52.984 3.519 14
21 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:54.294 4.829 11
22 45 Andre Lotterer Caterham-Renault 1:55.008 5.543 13