Alonso fastest in final Spa practice
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium |
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Ferrari's championship leader Fernando Alonso set the pace in final practice for the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday as the sun shone over the Ardennes forests after the previous day's washout.
With the sound of Formula One engines echoing around the majestic circuit, Alonso set a best time of one minute 48.542 seconds to undermine his assertion that the Ferrari was the slowest car of the top teams.
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari's ice-cool 2007 world champion, was second fastest for Lotus at a favourite fast and flowing circuit that has rewarded the Finn with four wins over his career.
Lotus had planned to test a new system, which they have named simply 'The Device', to boost their straight-line speed but decided not to after heavy rain on Friday left them with just an hour of track time to prepare for qualifying.
Even without it, the car looked quick with Raikkonen hoping to be challenging for his first win of the season in Sunday's race - the 12th round of the 20 race calendar.
Mexican Sergio Perez was third fastest for Sauber, ahead of Japanese team mate Kamui Kobayashi.
McLaren's Jenson Button took fifth place on the timing screens, despite complaining over the team radio early in the session about the balance of his car, while team mate Lewis Hamilton managed only 12th.
Red Bull's Mark Webber, Alonso's closest challenger in the standings with a 40 point gap to make up, was seventh after an unscheduled gearbox change that will give the Australian a five place penalty on the starting grid.
Double world champion team mate Sebastian Vettel was ninth with less than a second separating the top 10.
Nico Rosberg suffered a major setback when he parked up his Mercedes with what looked like a gearbox problem after just 10 minutes and five laps.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Patrick Johnston)
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