Spa’s typically damp microclimate made its presence felt in the opening practice session for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, and it was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who survived the slippery conditions best of all by topping the timesheets at the end of the day’s opening 90-minute run at Spa-Francorchamps.
The double World Champion was the early pace-setter midway through the practice session, and shortly after posting a 2:01.223 – a time that bettered the likes of those set by Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – he reported via the radio that the rain in the final sector of the 7km lap was getting heavier, and immediately pitted.
Within minutes, the track was trenched by another downpour and everyone poured into the pits.
The rain eventually eased and by the final ten minutes, the Spa weather did another magic trick by turning beautifully sunny, prompting several drivers to venture out in an attempt to improve their times.
Alonso went quicker again, posting a fastest time under the 2:01 barrier, and 0.7s quicker than Hamilton, who elected not to leave the safety of the pit lane and still hung on to second place on the timing screens.
The improved conditions helped Robert Kubica – whose Renault was now equipped with an ‘F-duct’ for the first time all season – to vault into third place in the closing minutes of proceedings.
Finishing fourth-quickest was Sebastian Vettel, who wound up just faster than 2010’s renowned rain master, Adrian Sutil, who took Force India to the giddy heights of fifth-fastest.
Another driver not to test the limits of adhesion in the closing minutes was Jenson Button, who dropped to sixth as those around him improved. He finished faster than Mark Webber, with Kamui Kobayashi, Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher rounding out the top ten.
Incredibly and in spite of the conditions, no one managed to damage their cars in the slippery conditions, although a few drivers – such as Felipe Massa, Heikki Kovalainen and the Spa specialist himself, Schumacher – managed at least one off-track moment.
2010 Belgian GP Practice 1 Session Times:
[Original image via AUTOSPORT]
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