• Belgian Grand Prix - FP3

Alonso closes Vettel's gap at the top in final practice

ESPN Staff
August 24, 2013
Sebastian Vettel was fastest again in final practice © Sutton Images
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Sebastian Vettel continued his strong form at Spa-Francorchamps in the final practice session, topping the times by 0.105s from Fernando Alonso ahead of qualifying.

There were no tyre dramas during the hour-long session as all drivers focused on perfecting their set-ups on the hard compound in the first 50 minutes before switching to the mediums for a quick sprint at the end. Vettel left his lap latest and pipped Alonso to the fastest time, but the gap between the pair will be encouraging for the Ferrari garage and backs up Alonso's optimism following Friday practice.

Mark Webber was third fastest and 0.206s off his team-mate, while Jean-Eric Vergne's impressive weekend in the Toro Rosso continued with the fourth fastest time. Felipe Massa underlined Ferrari's return to form with the fifth fastest time as Ferrari appear to be Red Bull's closest challengers ahead of qualifying.

Jenson Button was sixth fastest after spending the first 40 minutes of the session tinkering with his set-up. McLaren mechanics first changed the rear wing and then turned their attention to the floor of the car before Button went out and set a competitive time just 0.555s off Vettel's best.

Esteban Gutierrez was another surprise showing in the top ten with the seventh fastest time. The Mexican looked at ease behind the wheel of the Sauber and after impressive pace earlier in the weekend could be angling for the first Q3 appearance of his career in this afternoon's qualifying.

Romain Grosjean was the highest-placed Lotus as the E21 ran without its passive Drag Reduction Device as expected and ended up 0.603s off the pace. Nico Rosberg was 0.666s shy of Vettel in ninth place as Mercedes' struggles continued, while Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top ten 0.681s off the pace.

Lewis Hamilton ended up outside the top ten in 12th but was still within a second of the fastest time, suggesting there could still be room for improvement during a tight qualifying session. However, with the Force Indias and Valtteri Bottas' Williams also within a second of Vettel, some of the struggling big names will have to be careful not to be left red faced at the end of Q2.