Vettel stays ahead as Ferrari close the gap

2013 Belgian Grand Prix third practice

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2013Sebastian Vettel remained on top in the third practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix.

But Red Bull’s margin over their pursuers was much reduced in the final hour of practice before qualifying. Fernando Alonso split the two RB9s at the top of the times sheets and was just a tenth of a second slower than the championship leader.

Jean-Eric Vergne showed impressive pace in the Toro Rosso on hard and medium tyres. He ended the session fourth, less than half a second slower than Vettel around the seven-kilometre Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

There was some encouragement for McLaren as Jenson Button put his MP4-28 in sixth place. Sauber also had cause for cheer as Esteban Gutierrez ended the session seventh.

The quickest Lotus belonged to Romain Grosjean in eighth place. Team mate Kimi Raikkonen was tenth, the pair sandwiching Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes, which developed a problem at the end of the session. Rosberg was advised to cool the car as he returned to the pits.

team mate Lewis Hamilton had a harmless spin at the chicane during the session and ended up 12th quickest behind Daniel Ricciardo.

There were no repeats of the punctures seen during yesterday’s practice, which Pirelli blamed on debris.

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’48.327 16
2 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’48.432 0.105 14
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’48.533 0.206 16
4 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’48.776 0.449 15
5 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’48.788 0.461 15
6 5 Jenson Button McLaren 1’48.882 0.555 13
7 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’48.930 0.603 18
8 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’48.967 0.640 14
9 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’48.993 0.666 16
10 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’49.008 0.681 17
11 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’49.035 0.708 15
12 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’49.046 0.719 17
13 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’49.122 0.795 15
14 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’49.177 0.850 15
15 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’49.226 0.899 14
16 6 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’49.417 1.090 14
17 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1’49.478 1.151 19
18 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’50.418 2.091 14
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1’51.416 3.089 15
20 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’51.800 3.473 18
21 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1’52.221 3.894 17
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1’53.507 5.180 18

Combined practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 FP3 Fri/Sat diff Total laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’55.636 1’49.331 1’48.327 -1.004 52
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’55.198 1’50.510 1’48.432 -2.078 46
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’58.929 1’49.390 1’48.533 -0.857 62
4 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’57.084 1’50.253 1’48.776 -1.477 60
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’56.863 1’50.164 1’48.788 -1.376 52
6 Jenson Button McLaren 1’57.281 1’51.195 1’48.882 -2.313 55
7 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’55.954 1’51.644 1’48.930 -2.714 62
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2’03.176 1’50.149 1’48.967 -1.182 63
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’55.614 1’50.601 1’48.993 -1.608 59
10 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’59.441 1’50.318 1’49.008 -1.31 61
11 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’56.770 1’51.447 1’49.035 -2.412 55
12 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’57.358 1’50.751 1’49.046 -1.705 54
13 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’55.373 1’50.629 1’49.122 -1.507 56
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’56.858 1’51.568 1’49.177 -2.391 61
15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’55.224 1’50.611 1’49.226 -1.385 51
16 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’55.518 1’50.536 1’49.417 -1.119 55
17 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1’56.110 1’50.972 1’49.478 -1.494 63
18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’57.081 1’50.991 1’50.418 -0.573 56
19 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1’53.251 1’51.416 -1.835 44
20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’57.887 1’53.157 1’51.800 -1.357 55
21 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1’59.209 1’53.482 1’52.221 -1.261 57
22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1’58.600 1’54.418 1’53.507 -0.911 44
23 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’57.821 16

2013 Belgian Grand Prix

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24 comments on Vettel stays ahead as Ferrari close the gap

  1. Ferrari and RBR in particular look ominously quick.
    Can anyone give me any reassurance that Mercedes are holding back?
    Or is there simply no hope?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th August 2013, 11:15

      @gazz They’ve had the fastest car over a single lap in eight out of ten races so far. It would be quite a surprise if they’re suddenly off by six tenths of a second and slower than McLaren, Toro Rosso and Sauber.

      • Exactly what I thought!
        I have been watching F1 for years and just can’t figure out why they seem to have no pace.
        Every time I saw any kind of onboard, especially from Lewis, the car just looked all over the place.
        I hope they have something in reserve.

    • Shreyas Mohanty (@) said on 24th August 2013, 11:17

      @gazz Merc were never pushing. Running some other schedules, maybe.

  2. Shreyas Mohanty (@) said on 24th August 2013, 11:16

    That looks like a nice table. Will be interesting to see if Ferrari have actually closed the gap to RBR and Merc in qualifying.

  3. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 24th August 2013, 11:16

    Heres hoping. The whole of Mercedes title battle rests on this race. Don’t worry, I’ve told Grojean to take Vettel out on the 1st corner ;-)

  4. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 24th August 2013, 11:25

    I was astonished just how close the field was today. At one point I saw the top 18 (namely all cars except Caterham and Marussia) were seperated by .9 of a second. Considering it’s the longest track of the year, that’s quite extraordinary.

  5. I’m just interested now to see just how much Mercedes have been holding in reserve. Red Bull didn’t improve massively today which could also suggest they were holding back slightly, so maybe we’ve got a good qualifying battle on our hands (although now I’ve said that inevitably Mercedes will cruise to an easy pole).

  6. karter22 (@karter22) said on 24th August 2013, 15:32

    Well, this was a very good sign! Ferrari seem to have made a significant step forward! It just sucks they had a terrible qualy. I think they have their work cut out for them!

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