• German Grand Prix - FP3

Alonso leads the way ahead of qualifying

ESPN Staff
July 21, 2012
Fernando Alonso made the most of a dry track to set the fastest time © Getty Images
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Fernando Alonso set the quickest time in the final practice session ahead of qualifying for the German Grand Prix, making the most of a dry track before very heavy rain fell at the end of the session.

The first 55 minutes of the 60 minute session were dry and Alonso set his time on soft tyres when the track was near its best. He had held the fastest time earlier in the session too but was pipped by Lewis Hamilton, who produced a very promising lap on hard tyres with a 1:16.091. Alonso then made some setup tweaks before returning to the track on softs to go 0.077s faster than the McLaren.

Hamilton was due to set a time on soft tyres at the end of the session but rain around the second sector of the lap meant he struggled for grip and failed to improve. In the final minutes of the session the circuit was hit by a downpour that would have rendered the circuit undriveable had any cars remained on track. With more rain in the air, the track could well remain wet for the qualifying.

Sergio Perez was third fastest as the Sauber driver continued to show strong form, just 0.188s off Alonso's best time. Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest, 0.224s off the Ferrari, as he took to the track in his Lotus minus the prototype double DRS parts he was testing on Friday.

Mark Webber was the highest-placed Red Bull driver as he looked to get as much from his car over one lap as possible in the knowledge that he will face a five-place gird penalty from wherever he qualifies. Team-mate Sebastian Vettel was within 0.030s of Webber but appeared to struggle for front-end grip as he ended up running wide at turn one on a number of his fast laps.

Pastor Maldonado finished the session seventh ahead of Felipe Massa's Ferrari, 0.757s off team-mate Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber in ninth and Bruno Senna's Williams in tenth. Romain Grosjean, another driver who will face a five-place penalty for a gearbox change, was 11th ahead of the two Force Indias.

After showing some promising form on Friday, Mercedes looked a little off the pace with Michael Schumacher 15th and Nico Rosberg, another driver with a five-place grid penalty, 17th. However, the weather also affected their running plan and they may well be further up the order in qualifying.

Jenson Button rounded off the session at the bottom of the timesheets after working on long run pace until the rain fell in the final minutes. As a result he did not set a representative soft tyre run and should also improve in qualifying.

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