Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has set the fastest lap of the first practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix ahead of his team mate Lewis Hamilton.

Rosberg set his best lap on the super softs before moving on to the medium compound for 11 timed laps, while Hamilton spent his session running the soft compound along with a six lap stint on the super softs.

Kimi Raikkonen was third for Ferrari finished a fraction behind Hamilton and eight-tenths off Rosberg’s pace. The Ferrari pair were split by Sergio Perez’s Force India in fourth who was half a second quicker than Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull was next in the queue with Daniel Ricciardo leading Max Verstappen by less than a tenth of a second as both drivers registered late laps to improve on their time.

Nico Hulkenberg, who trialled the Halo head protection device along with Rosberg, Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz, finished the session in eighth position ahead of Valtteri Bottas and the Haas pair of Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean.

Both Haas drivers experienced multiple issues throughout the session; Gutierrez struggled with the brakes while Grosjean had a list of problems including incorrect tyre pressures, a de-rating issue that caused a loss of power, and having an excursion off the track into the gravel at Turn 14.

Formula 1 debutant Esteban Ocon exceeded expectations in his first outing as an F1 driver, placing his Manor in 16th position ahead of Daniil Kvyat and Jenson Button. His team mate Pascal Wehrlein was further down the order in 19th position having completed 23 laps.

Fernando Alonso only managed three installation laps and failed to set a lap time as his McLaren-Honda suffered an oil leak. The team will replace the power unit with a previous version for FP2, although it’s unknown whether McLaren will continue with their upgraded power unit and put a new unit in the car for the rest of the weekend, which would incur a grid penalty.

Image XPB Images

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Josh Kruse

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