Vettel stays on top in final Spa practice
24 August 2013 – Sebastian Vettel retained his authority over the field in Saturday morning's third and final practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver delivered a late effort of 1:48.327 on the Medium tyre to eclipse Ferrari's Fernando Alonso by one tenth of a second, while team-mate Mark Webber completed the top three.
As the threatened rain showers failed to arrive at Spa-Francorchamps, drivers enjoyed 60 minutes of clear running before qualifying. Concerns over the punctures witnessed on Friday were also eased, with Pirelli's claims that metal debris caused Vettel and Alonso's problems set to be taken more seriously after a trouble-free session.
When the traditional phase of race simulations passed and the switch to Option rubber arrived, it was Alonso who surged to the top of the timing screens, reclaiming the position he held in Friday morning's opening session. However, Vettel was quick to move ahead of his title rival, despite running wide on the exit of Turn 15.
Webber wound up two tenths adrift of Vettel in third, while Toro Rosso's Jean-Éric Vergne performed well throughout to slot behind the senior team driver. Felipe Massa and Jenson Button overcame early problems with their respective cars to claim fifth and sixth respectively, the pair followed closely by Sauber rookie Esteban Gutiérrez.
Romain Grosjean led Lotus's charge in eighth position, the outfit opting to drop its Drag Reduction Device (DRD) after the mixed weather conditions experienced on Friday. Nico Rosberg and Kimi Räikkönen rounded out the top ten runners, with the former's Mercedes team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, struggling to 12th position.
Caterham once again led the battle with Marussia, Charles Pic this time getting the better of Giedo van der Garde. At the Anglo-Russian team, Ferrari protégé Jules Bianchi outpaced Britain's Max Chilton by more than a second for 21st position.
Saturday's all-important qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps begins at 2pm local time (GMT +2) and can be tracked via the GPUpdate.net live report feature