Belgian GP: Lewis Hamilton tops the times in second practice
Lewis Hamilton topped the opening day of practice for the Belgian Grand Prix, outpacing Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosberg by six tenths of a second in the afternoon.
The 90-minute session was interrupted by two red flags during the first half-hour of running, the first caused by a crash for Pastor Maldonado and the second by Esteban Gutierrez’s spin.
But Hamilton was not fazed by these brief stoppages and was already fastest, four tenths quicker than Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, before the second red flag.
He then switched to the soft rubber for his performance run, heading out at the halfway point of the session.
By the time Hamilton set his best time, on his first flying lap on the faster rubber, he had slid down to seventh, with Rosberg having bumped McLaren driver Jenson Button off top spot moments earlier.
Hamilton then outpaced Rosberg in all three sectors, a massive 0.445s of his advantage coming in the middle sector, helped by the German having a scruffy lap.
Alonso was third fastest ahead of old team-mate Felipe Massa, the Brazilian Williams driver showing that his team would again be a podium threat here.
Button ended up fifth fastest, 1.470s down, but he set the fastest overall time in sector one, suggesting he was trying a set-up that was low downforce, even by Spa standards.
Valtteri Bottas was sixth fastest in the second Williams, ahead of Daniil Kvyat, with both drivers briefly being classified as high as second thanks to completing their qualifying simulation laps before some of the frontrunners.
Daniel Ricciardo was down in eighth place after completing his first soft-tyre run later than most while work was being done on his front brakes in the pits, jumping from 15th and bumping Kevin Magnussen and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg down to ninth and 10th.
Adrian Sutil was 12th fastest in the improving Sauber, briefly running as high as fourth before being bumped down the order, behind Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso, with Sergio Perez down in 13th.
Lotus’ Romain Grosjean complained of the rear end of his car being unpredictable on his way to 14th, just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.
The Ferrari driver endured a difficult session, with a misfire setting in early on and forcing a lengthy stay in the pits.
He returned to the track in the closing stages of the session, but the car was not able to do any better than 15th.
Marussia driver Jules Bianchi was up in 16th, just 3.587s off the pace, although his position was boosted by several others hitting trouble.
Gutierrez ended up 18th after managing only seven laps before he spun at Blanchimont and being unable to rejoin.
Andre Lotterer continued to impress, ending the session just half-a-tenth off team-mate Marcus Ericsson in 19th place.
Max Chilton, who had yesterday been replaced by Alexander Rossi before earning a reprieve this morning, had sat out the morning session and ended up 20th after his running was hindered by a turbo problem.
Maldonado did not set a time after causing an early red flag when he crashed just after the eight-minute mark.
The Lotus driver drifted onto the grass on the right-hand side of the track run-out of Rivage towards Pouhon and lost control, spearing across the track and heavily into the barrier on the opposite side of the circuit.
But he at least went further than Sebastian Vettel, who was forced to sit out the session as a result of an electrical problem related to the engine in the morning.
This has forced an engine change, which the team did not have the time to do before the afternoon’s running.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m49.189s 26
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m49.793s +0.604s 28
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m49.930s +0.741s 19
4. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m50.327s +1.138s 24
5. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m50.659s +1.470s 31
6. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m50.677s +1.488s 26
7. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m50.725s +1.536s 25
8. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m50.977s +1.788s 16
9. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m51.074s +1.885s 31
10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m51.077s +1.888s 26
11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m51.383s +2.194s 26
12. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m51.450s +2.261s 29
13. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m51.573s +2.384s 28
14. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m52.196s +3.007s 25
15. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m52.234s +3.045s 18
16. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m52.776s +3.587s 23
17. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m53.955s +4.766s 7
18. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m54.040s +4.851s 18
19. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m54.050s +4.861s 30
20. Andre Lotterer Caterham-Renault 1m54.093s +4.904s 24
21. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault no time 2
22. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault no time
Belgian GP: Nico Rosberg quickest in opening practice session
Mercedes was fastest in first practice for the 2014 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, with Nico Rosberg outpacing Lewis Hamilton by 0.097s.
As expected, Mercedes-engined cars dominated the top 10, with the ‘works’ cars trading quickest times in the final half hour.
Rosberg topped the timesheets for the first half of the session with a 1m51.724s lap before Hamilton edged ahead, but Rosberg hit back by going another tenth of a second faster.
Hamilton’s race engineer Peter Bonnington informed him that the time came from Rosberg being quicker through the chicane and picking up more mid-corner to exit speed at Pouhon.
Both Mercedes then returned to the circuit in the final minutes but did not improve their times.
Ferrari arrived at Spa with a revised low-downforce aero package and proved to be the fastest non-Mercedes team. Fernando Alonso was especially impressive, third fastest and just two tenths off Rosberg’s benchmark.
Kimi Raikkonen, so often a Spa specialist, continued to fight his F14 T but finished fifth fastest, albeit a second slower than his team-mate.
The Ferraris sandwiched the McLaren of fourth-placed Jenson Button, who survived a brief scare when his DRS stuck open. Button was a comfortable half second faster than team-mate Kevin Magnussen.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was the only other top 10 runner without a Mercedes engine, closing the session in ninth place, behind Magnussen and the two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.
Ricciardo’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel was two places adrift after an eventful session. He reported gearshift problems and ran off track at Pouhon, then ran just another handful of laps before returning to the garage with a temperature-related exhaust failure.
Valtteri Bottas was the only Williams driver to finish inside the top 10, seven tenths quicker than team-mate Felipe Massa.
While 1.595s separated P1 from P10, the gap from fastest to slowest on the entire grid was a substantial 6.4s, with the usual suspects propping up the order.
Alexander Rossi, who will not now drive in the grand prix, was over a second slower than Marussia team-mate Jules Bianchi.
It only took F1 debutant Andre Lotterer 10 laps at the wheel of the newly upgraded Caterham to overhaul team-mate Marcus Ericsson, who spun at La Source in response.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m51.577s 25
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m51.674s +0.097s 24
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m51.805s +0.228s 16
4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m52.404s +0.827s 21
5. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m52.818s +1.241s 17
6. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m52.903s +1.326s 24
7. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m52.922s +1.345s 23
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m52.937s +1.360s 22
9. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m52.972s +1.395s 19
10. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m53.172s +1.595s 20
11. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m53.369s +1.792s 11
12. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m53.594s +2.017s 21
13. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m53.597s +2.020s 20
14. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m53.703s +2.126s 14
15. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m53.968s +2.391s 20
16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m54.189s +2.612s 20
17. Giedo van der Garde Sauber-Ferrari 1m54.335s +2.758s 16
18. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1m55.336s +3.759s 21
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m55.782s +4.205s 19
20. Alexander Rossi Marussia-Ferrari 1m57.232s +5.655s 20
21. Andre Lotterer Caterham-Renault 1m57.886s +6.309s 24
22. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m57.977s +6.400s 24