F1: Alonso tops the times in third practice

F1: Alonso tops the times in third practice

SINGAPORE - Fernando Alonso shrugged off the maelstrom of rumours and speculation surrounding his future with Ferrari on Saturday to clock the fastest time in the third and final free practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix.

Showing all the deft control and commitment for which he is famous, the two-time former champion dominated the session as he demonstrated that on a street circuit he can deliver performances beyond the expected potential of his car.

As championship leader Nico Rosberg responded to his disappointing run in Friday's practice sessions, when he was unable to clock a flying lap time in his Mercedes, Alonso produced a best lap of one minute and 47.299 seconds.

This gave him a final advantage of 0.051 seconds ahead of nearest rival Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull.

The Australian clearly showed he has the speed to succeed team-mate and defending four-time champion Sebastian Vettel as the race winner under lights on the south-east Asian street circuit.

Vettel, who has won the race for the last three years, was fifth fastest behind Alonso, Ricciardo, third-placed Rosberg and the underrated Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, who faces losing his Toro Rosso seat to 16-year-old Dutch sensation Max Verstappen next season.

Lewis Hamilton, who is 22 points behind Mercedes team-mate Rosberg in the title fight, was a comfortable sixth and, like him, withdrew early from the fray as if, it appeared, they had both done enough without showing their hand ahead of qualifying.

It was only the fifth time this year that a Mercedes driver had not topped the times in third and final practice, but for Alonso and Ferrari that signalled a desire for revival after their dismal performance on home soil at the Italian Grand Prix two weeks earlier.

Brazilian Felipe Massa was seventh ahead of his Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas, the British team recovering from set-up problems on Friday that led to severe over-steer and overheated rear tyres.

Kimi Raikkonen, in the second Ferrari, was ninth and Esteban Gutierrez 10th for the struggling and so far pointless Sauber team.


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