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Alonso fastest in 3rd practice at Belgian GP

Associated Press Modified: September 1, 2012 at 7:01 am •  Published: September 1, 2012

SPA, Belgium (AP) — Formula One championship leader Fernando Alonso posted the fastest time in Saturday's third practice session at the Belgian Grand Prix, with drivers benefiting from good conditions to frantically fine-tune their cars for qualifying.

Heavy rain marred Friday's two practice runs, restricting drivers to a handful of laps, so the emphasis was on cramming as much testing as possible into the final practice run before the afternoon's qualifying.

This time, the Spa circuit was splashed in bright sunshine and completely dry.

Alonso, who is chasing his third Formula One title, had a best lap time of 1 minute, 48.542 seconds in his Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, the 2007 F1 champion, clocked 1:48.683.

Mexico's Sergio Perez was third, while Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg pulled out after five laps.

Both Red Bulls took it easy, with Mark Webber finishing with the seventh fastest time, and defending F1 champion Sebastian Vettel the ninth best.

Webber, however, must contend with a five-place grid penalty for the second time in three races for an unscheduled gearbox change, and will start Sunday's race no higher than sixth on the grid.

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