The weather radar showed that rain was sweeping in from Charleroi and was likely to hit Spa-Francorchamps, but throughout the final 60 minute practice session it ultimately stayed dry. Fans packed the grandstand and clambered for a view of the cars through the magnificent Eau Rouge complex.
Standing by the exit of La Source is a privilege, especially when you’re so close that you can feel the heat from the engine. It’s here where we tried some analysis of the drivers exiting La Source through the early stages of the session.
Pastor Maldonado was the first to attempt a flying lap and he had a little bit of difficulty putting the power down, whereas team-mate Valtteri Bottas – who arrived at the corner moments later – completed a much smoother line. McLaren’s Sergio Perez was wrestling with his MP4-28, firstly having to apply opposite lock and then on the next two laps having to make several attempts at flooring the throttle. By comparison, team-mate Jenson Button was much smoother and such observations were proved by the lap times. Both Force India drivers had a moment; Adrian Sutil locked up into La Source whereas Paul di Resta completely missed his braking. They ended the session outside of the top 10.
Mercedes has been talked about as potential world champions, but if the evidence of final practice is to go by, they could even struggle to make the top 10 in Q3. Nico Rosberg was initially smooth but on the next lap he locked up and failed to make the exit, instead taking to the vast run off on the outside of the corner. The following lap was little better, as the German dipped a wheel onto the exit kerb and struggled for traction, lighting up the rears. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton fared even worse. The number 10 Mercedes began a little twitchy, but the Brit soon began sliding his way through the exit, taking several attempts at putting down the power.
Esteban Gutierrez grappled with his Sauber several times on the hard tyres, whereas team-mate Nico Hulkenberg completed a far smoother arc of La Source; nonetheless Gutierrez’s time later on in the session was an eye-catching one for a top 10 session result is a rare occurrence for the Mexican.
Toro Rosso also appeared fairly smooth through the turn, while Ferrari’s Felipe Massa had little difficulties. But perhaps an ominous sign for the opposition will be the fact that Red Bull coped with La Source better than anyone else.