27 Sep 2008
Final practice - Alonso sets Saturday pace in Singapore
Fernando Alonso took the honours again in Saturday evenings final session of practice for the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix, and with Nelson Piquet fourth it proved to be a good one for Renault.
Alonso set his time right at the end of another busy hour of running under the floodlights, just after McLarens Lewis Hamilton had set the benchmark of 1m 45.119s to depose Felipe Massas 1m 45.246s for Ferrari. That itself had just beaten Piquets 1m 45.249s.
Alonsos 1m 44.506s, the fastest lap thus far this weekend, suggests that he was running a minimal fuel load.
Alonso, BMW Saubers Nick Heidfeld and Red Bulls Mark Webber all had off-course moments, usually because of the numerous bumps, Kazuki Nakajima grazed a wall with his Williams, and there was something of a pantomime as Kimi Raikkonen slid up an escape road and was not helped out of it by the marshals after stalling his Ferraris engine.
The biggest incident concerned Giancarlo Fisichella, however. The Italian went over the kerbs in Turn 10 - which Lewis Hamilton had emphatically said earlier needed to be avoided at all costs - and launched his Force India into the outside wall. He was unhurt, but the VJM01 sustained wing and front suspension damage.
Nico Rosberg continued his promising form with fifth fastest time of 1m 45.386s for Williams, followed by Hondas Jenson Button (1m 45.409s), BMW Saubers Robert Kubica (1m 45.425s), Webber (1m 45.450s), and the Toro Rosso duo of Sebastian Vettel (1m 45.477s) and Sebastien Bourdais (1m 45.599s). Heidfeld (1m 45.689s), Nakajima (1m 45.982) and McLarens Heikki Kovalainen (1m 45.982s on a fresh engine after taking his penaly-free 'joker' change) completed the runners below 1m 46s.
Hondas Rubens Barrichello led those in that bracket with 1m 46.073s, ahead of the Toyotas of Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli (1m 46.180s and 1m 46.221s respectively), then came Raikkonen, stranded on 1m 46.482s, David Coulthard, limited to six laps by technical problems, on 1m 46.794s, Fisichella (1m 47.166s) and Force India team mate Adrian Sutil (1m 47.727s).