GP Belgio, prove libere–23/08/2013
Belgian GP: Sebastian Vettel leads Red Bull one-two in practice
Sebastian Vettel headed team-mate Mark Webber as Red Bull scored an impressive one-two in a dry second Belgian Grand Prix practice session.
Vettel’s session ended on a sour note however when he suffered a right-rear puncture 20 minutes from the flag, after a long run on the medium compound. He ended up shredding the tyre as he limped back to the pits.
Pirelli has brought its hardest two compounds to Spa in order to deal with the extreme loads posed by the Belgian circuit, and has prescribed restrictive limits on pressures and cambers.
It was an unfortunate end for Red Bull given its domination of proceedings.
Vettel and Webber hit the front early on and then extended their advantage once the field switched onto Pirelli’s medium compound, eventually ending the session more than seven tenths clear of the chasing pack.
Vettel had also been fastest on the hard tyre, and was only displaced when Webber switched onto the options compound and dropped down to a 1m49.390s.
He responded instantly however, reasserting himself at the head of the timesheets with a 1m49.331s that was enough to secure top spot given teams switched their focus onto long runs shortly after.
Only four men – Romain Grosjean, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne and Kimi Raikkonen – were able to get within one second of Vettel’s benchmark.
Fernando Alonso, who went briefly fastest early on for Ferrari, beat McLaren’s Sergio Perez and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg to seventh.
Force India pair Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil meanwhile locked out 10th and 11th ahead of Hungarian GP race-winner Lewis Hamilton, who struggled with the handling of his Mercedes throughout.
Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado, Jenson Button and Daniel Ricciardo were next up, with the latter more than 1.2s slower than team-mate Vergne.
Giedo van der Garde meanwhile caused the only incident of the session when he lost the rear of his Caterham and slewed into the barriers exiting the Stavelot-Paul Frere complex. The Dutchman, who ended the session in 19th, was unhurt.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m49.331s 22 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m49.390s +0.059s 34 3. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m50.149s +0.818s 34 4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m50.164s +0.833s 27 5. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m50.253s +0.922s 28 6. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m50.318s +0.987s 33 7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m50.510s +1.179s 21 8. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m50.536s +1.205s 27 9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m50.601s +1.270s 33 10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m50.611s +1.280s 27 11. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m50.629s +1.298s 30 12. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m50.751s +1.420s 27 13. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m50.972s +1.641s 33 14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m50.991s +1.660s 28 15. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m51.195s +1.864s 28 16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m51.447s +2.116s 26 17. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m51.568s +2.237s 28 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m51.644s +2.313s 26 19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m53.157s +3.826s 21 20. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m53.251s +3.920s 29 21. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m53.482s +4.151s 28 22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m54.418s +5.087s 12
Belgian GP: Fernando Alonso fastest in wet/dry first practice
Fernando Alonso emerged quickest for Ferrari as Spa’s famous changeable conditions dictated proceedings in Formula 1’s first session following its summer hiatus.
Early rain over the Ardennes circuit meant the first and final sectors were saturated, in contrast to the middle split where a dry line was rapidly established.
After the opening 15 minutes, in which McLaren’s Jenson Button dominated, the mixed conditions effectively left the circuit too wet for slicks and too dry for intermediates, leading to a lull in activity.
The session finally sparked into life on the 45-minute mark as Mark Webber headed out on Pirelli’s hard compound and immediately went fastest in sector two, even if his overall lap was some nine seconds off Button’s early benchmark.
Webber’s run, combined with several forecasts pointing to further showers in the closing minutes, inspired the entire the field to switch onto slicks and led to myriad changes at the top of the order.
Sergio Perez was the first man to displace team-mate Button with just over 30 minutes of the session to run, and on his next lap became the first man to dip below the 2m00s barrier.
Button reasserted himself immediately, only to be knocked off in turn by Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo and then Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari was still yet to post a single flying effort as the session moved into the final half hour, but when it did emerge Alonso instantly hit the front, moving clear with a 1m57.1s.
There was still time for that to be usurped – firstly by Perez and then by Force India’s Paul di Resta – but Alonso’s next lap finally settled matters, earning top spot by just two hundredths of a second.
Di Resta’s effort was enough for second, while his team-mate Adrian Sutil slipped into third late on, just ahead of Perez, Rosberg and Vettel.
Despite the conditions everyone managed to stay clear of the barriers, with incidents limited to a few trips down escape roads or run-off areas, particularly at La Source and the final chicane.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m55.198s 11 2. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m55.224s +0.026s 10 3. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m55.373s +0.175s 11 4. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m55.518s +0.320s 14 5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m55.614s +0.416s 10 6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m55.636s +0.438s 14 7. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m55.954s +0.756s 18 8. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m56.110s +0.912s 11 9. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m56.770s +1.572s 14 10. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m56.858s +1.660s 18 11. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m56.863s +1.665s 10 12. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m57.081s +1.883s 14 13. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m57.084s +1.886s 17 14. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m57.281s +2.083s 14 15. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m57.358s +2.160s 10 16. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m57.821s +2.623s 16 17. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m57.887s +2.689s 16 18. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m58.600s +3.402s 14 19. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m58.929s +3.731s 12 20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m59.209s +4.011s 12 21. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m59.441s +4.243s 11 22. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2m03.176s +7.978s 15