Fernando Alonso finished the opening practice session atop the timesheets

Fernando Alonso has set the pace in a rain-affected opening practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix today, posting the session’s quickest time during a momentary dry spell at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

The Spaniard managed to narrowly edge out the Force India duo of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil, who rounded out the top three positions on the timesheets,

With rain showers hitting the Ardennes circuit before the opening practice session, the field’s early running was restricted to either the Full Wet or Intermediate Pirelli tyres. The McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Sergio Pérez were fastest in this stage of proceedings, only to slip down the order as track conditions steadily improved over the course of the 90-minute session.

The track was at its best with around 20 minutes to go, and it was during this point that most of the field opted to switch to the Hard compound tyres. After the Force Indias claimed top spot on the timing monitors, it was Alonso’s turn to move ahead, with the Spaniard securing the provisionally-quickest position by just 0.026 seconds.

Pérez recovered somewhat to finish fourth-quickest, ahead of the German duo of Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel in their respective Mercedes and Red Bull Racing entries. It was an uncharacteristically sloppy session from Vettel, who had an off-track moment at the final chicane, as well as a spin at the La Source hairpin.

The Saubers of Esteban Gutiérrez and Nico Hülkenberg were surprisingly well up the order in seventh and eighth respectively, while Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top ten positions.

In his first outing behind the wheel of the Caterham CT03 since the Spanish Grand Prix back in May, Heikki Kovalainen drove well to finish sixteenth-quickest, narrowly pipping regular driver Giedo van der Garde, while the team’s Marrusia rivals were over a second adrift.

Mark Webber and the two Lotus runners of Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean finished well down the order, opting to save mileage and serious running for the afternoon, when the conditions are expected to improve.


2013 Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:55.198   11
2. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:55.224 + 0.026 10
3. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:55.373 + 0.175 11
4. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:55.518 + 0.320 14
5. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:55.614 + 0.416 10
6. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:55.636 + 0.438 14
7. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 1:55.954 + 0.756 18
8. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 1:56.110 + 0.912 11
9. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:56.770 + 1.572 14
10. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 1:56.858 + 1.660 18
11. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:56.863 + 1.665 10
12. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 1:57.081 + 1.883 14
13. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:57.084 + 1.886 17
14. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:57.281 + 2.083 14
15. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:57.358 + 2.160 10
16. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT03 1:57.821 + 2.623 16
17. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT03 1:57.887 + 2.689 16
18. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:58.600 + 3.402 14
19. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:58.929 + 3.731 12
20. Jules Bianchi FRA Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:59.209 + 4.011 12
21. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:59.441 + 4.243 11
22. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 2:03.176 + 7.978 15

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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