Sebastian Vettel throws his Red Bull through Eau Rouge en route to the fastest time in final practice

In similar situations to yesterday – although thankfully minus the tyre punctures – Sebastian Vettel took top honours once again as practice drew to a close for the Belgian Grand Prix.

The German narrowly edged out championship rival Fernando Alonso by a tenth of a second, who was in turn another tenth of a second faster than Mark Webber.

With conditions proving sunny for today’s one-hour session, Jean-Éric Vergne proved that his Friday practice pace was no fluke with another top-five result. The Frenchman again left Toro Rosso teammate Daniel Ricciardo trailing in his wake down in eleventh place on the timing screens.

Vergne could not be more of a headache to the young Australian if he tried, with Ricciardo desperately trying to prove to the senior Red Bull Racing team of his worth as it looks to find a suitable replacement for Mark Webber. Being out-paced by former competition in the same machinery, in what is usually Ricciardo’s domain, flying laps, doesn’t reflect well on the Aussie.

McLaren’s session was interrupted by electrical and floor plank problems for Jenson Button, and floor damage for Sergio Perez, which caused them both to have limited running. Despite this, Button set a competitive lap five-tenths behind Vettel, which landed him in sixth position; Perez finished further down the order in sixteenth.

Mercedes again made little impact on the overall timing boards, with Rosberg ninth and Hamilton outside the top-ten in twelfth place. Although there have been speculations that Mercedes are running heavier loads during the qualifying practice of FP3, Hamilton still seemed to be struggling with the set-up and balance of his car, even finding himself facing the wrong way around at the Bus Stop chicane.

The Force Indias of Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta also found themselves lower than expected in thirteenth and fifteenth respectively, often getting caught out with understeer, along with other drivers, at Turn 9.


2013 Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:48.327   16
2. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:48.432 + 0.105 14
3. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:48.533 + 0.206 16
4. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:48.776 + 0.449 15
5. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:48.788 + 0.461 15
6. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:48.882 + 0.555 13
7. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 1:48.930 + 0.603 18
8. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:48.967 + 0.640 14
9. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:48.993 + 0.666 16
10. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:49.008 + 0.681 17
11. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:49.035 + 0.708 15
12. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:49.046 + 0.719 17
13. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:49.122 + 0.795 15
14. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 1:49.177 + 0.860 15
15. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:49.226 + 0.899 14
16. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:49.417 + 1.090 14
17. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 1:49.478 + 1.151 19
18. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 1:50.418 + 2.091 14
19. Charles Pic FRA Caterham Renault CT03 1:51.416 + 3.089 15
20. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT03 1:51.800 + 3.473 18
21. Jules Bianchi FRA Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:52.221 + 3.894 17
22. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:53.507 + 5.180 18

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.
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