Lewis Hamilton has finished the final practice session ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix fastest, half a second quicker than yesterday’s pacesetter Nico Rosberg. Sebastian Vettel was half a second behind Rosberg in third.
Rosberg was the first driver to set a time at the top of the timesheets, registering a 1:51.737, which was soon beaten by Nico Hülkenberg in the Force India. Hamilton took time in getting the setup in his car right, then took up his place on the top of the leader board with a 1:50.635.
Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso opted for a different strategy as opposed to the rest of the field, making the switch to the soft compound tyre after 20 minutes of running on the hard compound. Daniel Ricciardo jumped to the top of the table registering a 1:49.930 and was soon joined by Max Verstappen posting a 1:50.599. Daniil Kvyat then slotted his RB11 into second position, just half a tenth off Ricciardo’s best.
These times would remain throughout the session as the three drivers carried out a long run simulation on the soft compound tyre in preparation for tomorrow’s race. Ricciardo ended up completing the most laps with 17 while Verstappen spent 15 laps on the softer compound.
Despite being a good 4-5kmph slower in the speed trap, Red Bull managed to keep their cars inside the top 10, with Ricciardo in sixth and Kvyat just behind in seventh.
Ferrari continued to impress as Vettel posted the third quickest time, a 1:50.460 on the hard compound tyre. Once he moved on to the soft compound his time dropped to a 1:49.629 which was two-tenths quicker than his team-mate Kimi Räikkönen in fourth.
With 13 minutes left to run in the session, the Mercedes pair made the switch to the soft compound tyre and quickly returned to the top of the table. Rosberg was the first to post his fastest lap, although it wasn’t as clean as he would have liked as he was forced to downshift through Pouhon, costing him a small amount of time. Hamilton capitalised on Rosberg’s mistake to post the fastest lap of the session and to put himself in prime position to take pole.
Force India had a positive session, finishing ahead of Williams to be the second fastest Mercedes-powered team. Sergio Pérez was 0.8 seconds off Hamilton’s pace in fifth position, while Hülkenberg ended the session in eighth ahead of the Williams pair of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.
Saturday’s qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps begins at 14:00 local time (GMT +2).
|2015 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Results|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:48.984||15|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:49.482||+ 0.498||19|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:49.629||+ 0.645||17|
|4.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:49.864||+ 0.880||19|
|5.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B||1:49.866||+ 0.882||15|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:49.930||+ 0.946||20|
|7.||Daniil Kvyat||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:49.980||+ 0.996||19|
|8.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B||1:50.000||+ 1.016||15|
|9.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:50.179||+ 1.195||15|
|10.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:50.447||+ 1.463||15|
|11.||Carlos Sainz||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:50.552||+ 1.568||20|
|12.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:50.585||+ 1.601||17|
|13.||Max Verstappen||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:50.599||+ 1.615||21|
|14.||Felipe Nasr||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:50.690||+ 1.706||17|
|15.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:51.054||+ 2.070||20|
|16.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:51.187||+ 2.203||18|
|17.||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:51.981||+ 2.997||12|
|18.||Will Stevens||Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B||1:54.262||+ 5.278||16|
|19.||Roberto Merhi||Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B||1:54.281||+ 5.297||9|
|20.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda MP4-30||no time||1|
Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Petronas