Alonso tops final practice in Singapore
|By Matt Beer
||Saturday, September 27th 2008, 12:05 GMT
Fernando Alonso continued his promising Singapore form by topping a second consecutive practice session at the Marina Bay track.
In a repeat of his practice two performance, the Renault driver vaulted up the order with an aggressive late lap, setting a 1:44.506 after 58 minutes.
Alonso's effort on soft tyres gave him a comfortable margin over the rest of the field, as he beat second-placed Lewis Hamilton's McLaren by six tenths of a second.
Felipe Massa was third for Ferrari, but the Brazilian set his best time on the harder tyres, and was only 0.127 seconds adrift of Hamilton.
Nelson Piquet claimed fourth in the second Renault, having led the way until the final few minutes, with Williams' Nico Rosberg impressed again in fifth, and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen languishing in 17th after an error.
Monza winner Sebastian Vettel led the way for much of the hour in his Toro Rosso, having leapt to the top by a comfortable margin with his first flying lap of the session. The German stayed ahead until the 35-minute mark, when Piquet beat his time by four tenths of a second.
Piquet remained on top going into the late soft tyre runs, when he was pushed back to fourth by Alonso, Hamilton and Massa.
Rosberg maintained his strong Friday pace to move into fifth at the end of the session, ahead of another eye-catching performance from Honda's Jenson Button, who ran as high as second after making an early switch to soft tyres.
It was another unhappy session for struggling world champion Raikkonen, who locked up and slid off-course at Turn 7. The Finn tried in vain to turn his undamaged Ferrari around in the escape road before eventually having to admit defeat and park the car, ending his session with 15 minutes remaining.
Giancarlo Fisichella had a more destructive incident when he became the first man to crash a Formula One car at the much-debated Turn 10 chicane. The Force India driver misjudged the corner and was launched over the controversial kerbs and into the barriers, causing significant right-front damage to his car.
Red Bull's problems continued, with David Coulthard's car jamming in third gear on the installation lap, forcing him to stay in the garage until the final three minutes.
His teammate Mark Webber made two visits to the escape road at Turn 18, where he had crashed on Friday, but avoided contact this time and completed the session in eighth, behind Robert Kubica (BMW), and ahead of Vettel and his Toro Rosso teammate Sebastien Bourdais.
Heikki Kovalainen only managed 13th in the second McLaren, having narrowly avoided the wall when he made a mistake on his final flying lap.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Alonso Renault (B) 1:44.506 19
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:45.119 + 0.613 13
3. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:45.246 + 0.740 16
4. Piquet Renault (B) 1:45.249 + 0.743 18
5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:45.386 + 0.880 17
6. Button Honda (B) 1:45.409 + 0.903 20
7. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 1:45.425 + 0.919 17
8. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:45.450 + 0.944 21
9. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:45.477 + 0.971 19
10. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:45.599 + 1.093 18
11. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:45.689 + 1.183 19
12. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:45.982 + 1.476 18
13. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:45.982 + 1.476 13
14. Barrichello Honda (B) 1:46.073 + 1.567 21
15. Glock Toyota (B) 1:46.180 + 1.674 23
16. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:46.221 + 1.715 19
17. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:46.482 + 1.976 10
18. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:46.794 + 2.288 6
19. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:47.166 + 2.660 14
20. Sutil Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:47.727 + 3.221 19
All timing unofficial