Practice 3: Webber tops in the wet, wet, wet
27 August, 2011
Aug.27 (PVM) Mark Webber celebrated his 35th birthday and a new Red Bull contract, in the best way possible, by claiming top spot on the timing screens at the end of the final free practice of the Belgian grand prix weekend at a rain soaked Spa-Francorchamps.
Another wet and miserable day beckoned in the Ardennes dampening the ‘fresh from the holidays’ spirit that should have otherwise engulfed the Formula 1 world as business resumed after the break.
Again running was down to a minimum and when the flag dropped to end the hour session Webber was fastest despite a concerted effort from Lewis Hamilton to dislodge him from top spot on his final run. Hamilton ended second fastest only 0.058 seconds down on the Aussie’s best time.
Jaime Alguersuari showed some strong pace in the Toro Rosso going third fastest, ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button followed by world championship leader Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull.
Showing remarkable composure, after his Friday barrier encounter, was Bruno Senna who finished the session ninth fastest in the Renault, despite still learning what goes where in the unfamiliar R31 cockpit.
Several drivers were subject to heart pounding off track moments, some closer than others, as they came to terms with the grip, or rather lack thereof.
All in all it was another wasted session, so much so that Fernando Alonso did not even bother to set a time, as the priority for teams is to save wet tyres for qualifying and the race which discourages long runs.
Now, in the short time between the final free practice and qualifying, the biggest challenge facing teams and drivers will be what setup to bolt on for qualy and the race. Does one go for a wet, a dry or an intermediate setup? – for sure the weather men will be earning their keep and will probably, as usual, get their sums all wrong!
Apart from an hour on the opening day, the three practice sessions have been a bore, but now things get intriguing with the prospect of a wet qualifying which can throw up some big surprises – remember Nico Hulkenberg last year in Brazil.
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh explained the predicament facing teams, “It’s frustrating because we’ve got limited number of tyres so we have to be careful how we consume them. I don’t think the track is going to dry and I expect we can go out on intermediates for qualifying but we only have four sets.”
Saturday, 27 August – Practice 3
|8||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||2:11.437||2.449||13|
|11||15||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||2:11.874||2.886||13|
|24||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||No time||5|