Nico Rosberg was fastest during the first practice session ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver set his fastest lap while testing the halo device which will be introduced in 2018.
Rosberg’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton was second fastest .7 of a second down on his team-mates best lap. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was third ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel in fifth. While Sergio Perez put in a strong performance to go fourth in between the two Ferrari’s.
Vettel lost track time because of a break change. There was also problems for Fernando Alonso after a water leak which ment he could only manage a few laps.
This is not what McLaren needed as they want to know how the new internal combustion engine, turbo and compressor, and are said to be worth 0.1-0.2secs a lap devlier.
Alonso’s team-mate Jenson Button was only 17th fastest, 4.059secs off the pace.
Force India has always gone well here since the team’s original name Jordan in 1991. Once again Perez proves Spa is a circuit which really suits their car with him managing to be ahead of both of the Red Bull’s. Daniel Ricciardo was sixth slightly faster than Belgian-Dutch driver Max Verstappen.
It wasn’t plain sailing for Verstappen he had a huge oversteer at the Fagnes chicane. Haas’s Romain Grosjean had an off into the gravel at the Stavelot.
Spa is expected to favour Mercedes because of the high speed nature and with Hamilton’s at least a 15-place grid penalty for exceeding engine allocation limits, Rosberg assumed the position on the timesheet he is expected to have into the weekend.
Rosberg was free to fit a new power unit without incurring a penalty because he remains within his five allocated units for this season.
Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz also ran the halo but didn’t set a fast lap while using the device. Rosberg was the first driver to set a lap in anger using the device and everyone will be keen to hear how it went before the planned introduction in 2018
Esteban Ocon who makes his race debut this weekend was fifteen going faster than team-mate Pascal Wehrlein. His only error in an accomplished performance was hitting a cone in the pits as he practised a stop.
Englishman Jolyon Palmer was 21st, and slowest of the drivers who set a time, after his session came to an early end with 20 minutes to go when he lost drive.