Hamilton leads the way in final Spa practice

Lewis Hamilton continued Mercedes AMG PETRONAS’ domination of the Spa-Francorchamps weekend by setting the pace in final practice on Saturday morning.

The Briton took top spot for the first time this weekend, breaking team-mate Nico Rosberg’s stranglehold, but for the third time at Spa it was a Mercedes 1-2 during the session.

Hamilton left it late to run his soft tyre run, but used it well to set a time of 1m48.984s, which was 0.498s faster than Rosberg.

Sebastian Vettel was third fastest for Scuderia Ferrari, 0.645s back on Hamilton’s time, but 0.235s faster than team-mate and four-time Spa winner Kimi Raikkonen, while Sergio Perez put in an impressive effort in his Sahara Force India to finish the session in fifth, a further 0.002s back on Raikkonen.

Sixth and seventh went to the two Infiniti Red Bull Racing drivers, with Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Daniil Kvyat, while Nico Hulkenberg proved that the pace of the Force India team this weekend is strong by setting the eighth best time of the session.

The Williams Martini Racing drivers completed the top ten, with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Felipe Massa, while Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen were eleventh and thirteenth for Scuderia Toro Rosso, with the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado sandwiched between the two rookies.

Felipe Nasr was the better of the two Sauber F1 Team drivers in fourteenth, just ahead of team-mate Marcus Ericsson, while Romain Grosjean had one of the more exciting sessions, surviving a spin at the Bus Stop Chicane mid-session and a slow-moving Raikkonen on his late quick lap that saw him finish only sixteenth fastest in the second Lotus.

It was another disappointing session for the McLaren-Honda team, with Jenson Button finishing only seventeenth fastest, but Fernando Alonso was only able to complete one lap of the Spa circuit before being consigned to the pit lane while the team attempted to solve an exhaust issue on his car. The team are hoping to fix Alonso’s car ahead of qualifying.

The last of those to set a time during the session were the two Manor F1 Team drivers, with Will Stevens just ahead of Roberto Merhi.

Pirelli will be relieved that there were no further issues with its tyres following the high-speed failure on Rosberg’s car during the second session on Friday.

The FIA removed the sausage kerbing on the inside of turn four overnight after criticism from some drivers and two instances of cars being launched during the GP3 Series practice on Friday, one of which broke the monocoque of Adderly Fong’s Koiranen GP entry.

Spa-Francorchamps Free Practice 3 Times

144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes1m48.984s
26Nico RosbergGERMercedes1m49.482s
35Sebastian VettelGERFerrari1m49.629s
47Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari1m49.864s
511Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes1m49.866s
63Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Renault1m49.930s
726Daniil KvyatRUSRed Bull-Renault1m49.980s
827Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-Mercedes1m50.000s
977Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes1m50.179s
1019Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes1m50.447s
1155Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault1m50.552s
1213Pastor MaldonadoVENLotus-Mercedes1m50.585s
1333Max VerstappenNEDToro Rosso-Renault1m50.599s
1412Felipe NasrBRZSauber-Ferrari1m50.690s
159Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari1m51.054s
168Romain GrosjeanFRALotus-Mercedes1m51.187s
1722Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda1m51.981s
1828Will StevensGBRManor-Ferrari1m54.262s
1998Roberto MerhiESPManor-Ferrari1m54.281s
2014Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-HondaNo Time