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Final practice - Alonso savours the Spa sunshine 01 Sep 2012

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012 Kamui Kobayashi crosses the line. It's a strong showing from Sauber as Perez and Kobayashi lead the timesheet towards the end of the session After Friday's washout the cars queue up to get in as much running time as possible Barely ten minutes into the session, Nico Rosberg's Mercedes is an early casualty, suffering a complete loss of drive

Fernando Alonso and Ferrari topped the crucial final practice session at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday morning, the first time the cars had run on a dry road.

Though the Spaniard had said before the race that he hoped for a wet one, the F2012 looked pretty good in the dry as he headed Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen by 0.141s, 1m 48.542s to 1m 48.683s.

It was necessarily something of a suck-it-and-see session for everyone, given yesterday’s conditions, and Sauber came through to snatch third and fourth places with Sergio Perez on 1m 48.850s from Kamui Kobayashi on 1m 48.863s.

Jenson Button wasn’t happy initially with his McLaren but worked down to fifth fastest 1m 49.091s by the end, a thousandth ahead of Felipe Massa’s Ferrari. Mark Webber was seventh for Red Bull on 1m 49.164s, but his day was spoiled as it transpired that a gearbox change will earn him a five-place grid penalty this afternoon.

Romain Grosjean was eighth on 1m 49.266s in the second Lotus, with Sebastian Vettel ninth on 1m 49.292s for Red Bull from Paul di Resta, who complained of oversteer on his Force India on the way to 1m 49.382s, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado on 1m 49.561s, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton on 1m 49.615s, Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher on 1m 49.621s, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg on 1m 49.674s, Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne on 1m 49.710s and team mate Daniel Ricciardo on 1m 49.776s.

Bruno Senna was only 17th, having initially set the pace with 1m 50.027s for Williams, while Heikki Kovalainen was in his customary 18th place in the Caterham on 1m 52.339s. Behind him another early pacesetter, Charles Pic, headed Marussia team mate Timo Glock, 1m 52.566s to 1m 52.630s, with Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham sandwiching the red and black cars on 1m 52.809s.

At the back, Pedro de la Rosa saw off HRT team mate Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 53.383s to 1m 53.562s. And Nico Rosberg lapped his Mercedes in 1m 58.113s before stopping with suspected gearbox problems at Fagnes early on.

So who hit their sweet spot and who was still doing heavy fuel running? We’ll know soon in qualifying, for which the weather should remain dry.

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