Ferrari was back at the top of the times in the last practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen with a fastest of 1:46.137 and Felipe Massa second, two and a half tenths behind. McLaren followed on, Fernando Alonso leading Lewis...
Ferrari was back at the top of the times in the last practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen with a fastest of 1:46.137 and Felipe Massa second, two and a half tenths behind. McLaren followed on, Fernando Alonso leading Lewis Hamilton in third and fourth respectively, while Renault's Heikki Kovalainen was the 'best of the rest' man in fifth.
At the start of the session Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto were quickly out on the circuit in the Spykers, followed by most of the pack for installation laps. Alonso and the Ferraris were the only ones not to put in an early appearance. After the initial flurry of activity there was 10 minutes quiet before drivers started to return to the track.
The Spykers went back out, along with Anthony Davidson's Super Aguri and Ralf Schumacher's Toyota. The Toro Rossos of Sebastian Vettel and Tonio Liuzzi joined them and Yamamoto set the first time, 1:51.629. Schumacher's 1:48.567 swiftly took over, three seconds up, then Sutil took second and Davidson third. Liuzzi posted second on his first effort and Vettel followed into third.
The BMW Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica were next to appear but Kubica bought out the yellow flags when he stopped in the middle sector with a possible engine failure. It didn't stop Raikkonen's first timed lap and the Finn posted fastest first and last sectors, backing off in the middle due to the yellows. He took sixth and meanwhile, Nico Rosberg's Williams had taken third.
Heidfeld had an aborted first effort due to the yellows and clocked ninth but improved to fifth on his next lap. Hamilton's McLaren went straight to the top on his first flyer, 1:47.545, but was immediately demoted by Raikkonen's 1:47.363. Jenson Button's Honda slotted into ninth then teammate Rubens Barrichello took the place off him. Alex Wurz' Williams followed into 10th.
Raikkonen improved to 1:46.624 and then Massa was sixth tenths behind in second. The Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Kovalainen started low key with 16th and 17th respectively, six and 10 seconds off the pace. Mark Webber's Red Bull clocked the fifth best time on his first quick lap and by half way through only three men had not set a time; Alonso, Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Red Bull's David Coulthard.
Massa narrowed the gap to Raikkonen to a tenth and only Hamilton in third was within a second of the Ferraris at the time, nine tenths down. Trulli finally arrived in fourth, one ahead of teammate Schumacher, while Alonso was only then heading out on his installation lap. Heidfeld ousted Trulli from fourth but was only slightly closer to breaking into the one second gap to the lead Ferrari, 1.4 off the pace.
Trulli immediately retaliated and got the place back but Alonso dropped them both down one when he arrived in third, three tenths off Raikkonen and six tenths up on Hamilton. Kovalainen finally dragged himself up from the bottom and posted 12th and Fisichella did likewise but only to 16th. Hamilton knocked a couple of tenths off his time but stayed fourth while Raikkonen went round in 1:46.137.
That left Massa six tenths adrift, Alonso eight and Hamilton over a second. Fisichella was still lapping and managed a more respectable seventh and Hamilton jumped ahead of Alonso for third. Kovalainen also improved, first 11th then sixth on consecutive laps. Coulthard was the last man to arrive on the time sheet in 12th. Massa again closed the gap to his teammate to two and a half tenths.
Yamamoto bought out the yellows in the middle sector for the second time this session when the Spyker spun and hit the barrier. At that point Liuzzi was a notable eighth, two seconds off the lead pace but over a second quicker than teammate Vettel. That changed when the track went green again and Vettel jumped up to ninth, less than a tenth off Liuzzi. Button demoted the pair when he took eighth.
In the last few minutes Fisichella went up to fifth then lost it to Kovalainen, who managed to get inside the one second margin to Raikkonen. Heidfeld took sixth and Schumacher seventh, while Webber grabbed eighth then Trulli slotted into sixth. There was little change at the top; the McLarens closed the gap to Raikkonen slightly and Alonso was back in front of Hamilton.
On Friday Ferrari was strong in the morning but McLaren took over in the afternoon so it will be interesting to see if the same scenario plays out today. It's pretty close and as usual it appears that pole will be fought over by the top four drivers. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso, Hamilton, Kovalainen, Trulli, Rosberg, Heidfeld.