• Belgian Grand Prix - FP3

Alonso heads Raikkonen in busy FP3

ESPN Staff
September 1, 2012
Fernando Alonso was on top in final practice © Getty Images
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Fernando Alonso set the fastest time in an action-packed final practice session ahead of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, edging out Kimi Raikkonen by 0.141s.

It was the first dry session of the weekend, meaning the teams and drivers were hard pushed to find the perfect set-up over the course of the hour. As a result the order was slightly mixed with neither Red Bull nor McLaren featuring in the top four.

The Sauber pair of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi looked competitive ahead of Jenson Button's McLaren in fifth, while Mark Webber was the highest-placed Red Bull in seventh. Several drivers, including Button, complained of both understeer and oversteer around the 4.3-mile circuit as the teams had to chase set-up and evaluate new parts simultaneously.

Nico Rosberg's preparations were severely hampered by a loss of drive that saw him stop on track early in the session. The Mercedes driver had completed just five slow laps before it appeared as though he had a gearbox problem on his way through the high-speed Pouhon. If it was the gearbox he could face a five-place gird penalty for a replacement.

Championship challengers Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton 23 and 19 laps respectively, but both were off the pace. The Red Bull was ninth, 0.750s off Alonso's time, while the McLaren was back in 12th, 1.073s off the pace. The paddock will have to wait until the afternoon's qualifying session to know whether they were genuinely lacking pace or just running different fuel loads.

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