Silverstone, July 7, 2012 (AFP) - Championship leader Fernando Alonso topped the times for Ferrari in Saturday morning's third free practice session for Sunday's British Grand Prix as the rain relented to allow an hour of welcome dry running.
The 30-year-old Spaniard, winner of last year's race and the only man this year to win two Grands Prix, clocked a best time of one minute and 32.167 seconds in intermittent sunshine at a sodden Silverstone.
His lap came during a session in which all of the teams ventured out and many drivers tested the limits of their cars in the drying conditions.
Several delivered lurid and spectacular spins including Alonso, who recovered after one that left him sideways on the track.
Briton Jenson Button, who on Friday warned that similar conditions to those of the opening day would make it too dangerous to race on Sunday, wound up second quickest for McLaren, just 0.191 seconds slower than Alonso.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean was third for Lotus ahead of defending double world champion German Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull and Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the second Lotus.
Briton Lewis Hamilton was sixth quickest in the second McLaren ahead of Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado of Williams, Mexican Sergio Perez and his Sauber team-mate Japanese Kamui Kobayashi and 10th placed Nico Hulkenberg in the leading Force India car.
Within minutes of the session ending, rain began to fall again and thousands of brightly-coloured umbrellas were raised around the circuit in a signal of the British fans' stubborn spirit of endurance - and support for Hamilton and Button, whose lap on used hard tyres may have signalled an end to his recent miseries.