Belgian GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report
The holiday changed nothing. Formula 1 has been on a three-week break, but when the action resumed at Spa with Free Practice 1 for the Belgian Grand Prix it was business as usual with the works Mercedes teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton setting the fastest lap times.
There were several changes in the line-up as the F1 teams went back to work following the summer break.
On the Friday morning driver swaps, reserve driver Guido van der Garde was in place of Esteban Gutierrez in the Sauber for FP1.
American Alexander Rossi was making his Formula 1 debut as a race driver (as opposed to a test driver) as he replaced Max Chilton in the Marussia. Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer was also making his Formula 1 debut as a race driver (as opposed to a test driver) as he replaced Kamui Kobayashi in the Caterham.
The ride-less Chilton was at the track, watching things from the pit wall opposite the Marussia pit garage. But he was not going to be out of a ride for long as he and the team sorted out their contractual differences and the word was that Chilton would be back in the car for FP2. Rossi's race debut would have to wait.
The ambient temperature at the start of the session was degrees 54 Fahrenheit (12 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Centigrade.)
Spa is a long track - 4.352-miles (7.004-kms) and 19-turns, so it took time for the drivers to set lap times. 10 minutes into the session, all 22 drivers had completed one installation lap and were back in the garages.
12 minutes into the session, McLaren teammates Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button. They set the first times - 1:53.405 and 1:54.221 respectively.
19 minutes into the session, only two drivers (Lotus teammates Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado) remained in the pits as the serious work for FP1 got going.
21 minutes into the session, Nico Rosberg posted the best time of the session - 1:52.143 - in his Mercedes. He then improved that to a 1:51.724 while Fernando Alonso slotted his Ferrari into second place with a time of 1:51.937.
30 minutes into the session, the top six were: Rosberg, Alonso, Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Sergio Perez (Force India.)
Nico Hulkenberg (Force India), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Button, Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Adrian Sutil (Sauber) rounded out the top dozen. New guys Lotterer and Rossi were 21st and 22nd.
35 minutes into the session, Maldonado was the sole driver out on the track.
41 minutes into the session, Maldonado pitted and Grosjean replaced him as the only driver circulating around through the forests. A couple of minutes later, Lotterer joined him.
With just two cars on the track, the order was not going to change much with the exception of Grosjean moving into ninth place. Midway through FP1 the top 10 were: Rosberg, Alonso, Bottas, Magnussen, Vettel, Perez, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Grosjean and Button.
With 43 minutes remaining in the session, Marcus Ericcson spun his Caterham coming out of the La Source Hairpin.
With 37 minutes remaining in the session, Hamilton went to the top of the charts as he shaved 0.050 of a second off of Rosberg's time to post a 1:51.674. Rosberg responded with a 1:51.577.
With 32 minutes remaining in the session, Ricciardo moved up to seventh and Button to fourth.
At the one hour mark the top six were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso, Button, Magnussen and Hulkenberg. Shortly thereafter Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) snatched fifth place and Perez sixth.
With 19 minutes remaining in the session, all the drivers were in the pits.
With 10 minutes remaining in the session, only Vettel, who was having gear change problems, was not out on track. Then a burnt exhaust problem put an end to his session.
The top 10 at the end of FP1 were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso, Button, Raikkonen, Perez, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo and Bottas.