Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg has recorded the fastest time in the opening practice session for the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix. Rosberg ended the session over two-tenths of a second quicker than team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Daniel Ricciardo was a fraction off Hamilton in third position.
The rate of development never slows down in Formula 1, not even during the summer as Mercedes introduced a new droopy-scooped rear wing designed to enhance a link up in airflow.
While both drivers enjoyed trialing the new rear wing, it was Rosberg who ran into trouble early in the session while Hamilton was setting an early benchmark of a 1:51.340.
Rosberg’s Mercedes lost power on the entry to Blanchimont and he was forced to make an unscheduled visit to the garage. The German spent around thirty minutes on the sidelines before returning to the track and posting the fastest lap of the session, a 1:51.200.
Both Red Bull cars ran high in the order throughout the session, with Ricciardo ending up just half a tenth of a second behind Hamilton. Daniil Kvyat finished sixth behind the Ferrari pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
There were encouraging signs for Red Bull, as their straight line speed was on par with the likes of Mercedes. Toro Rosso experienced the same achievement, which suggests that Renault has taken a significant step forward rather than putting it down to Red Bull stripping off their aero kit.
With 39 minutes left to run the red flag was brought out by a driver who seemingly finds it easier to seek out barriers than others. Pastor Maldonado spun on the exit of Malmedy and crashed hit Lotus nose first into the barrier.
Once the debris were cleared and running resumed, Rosberg posted another fastest lap, going 0.242 seconds clear of Hamilton’s best time, and making a statement to his team-mate in the process.
The Williams pair of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas spent most of the practice session down at the tail end of the leader board. Bottas managed to slot behind Sergio Perez for 10th position while Massa was sandwiched between the Sauber’s of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson in 14th.
Jolyon Palmer was the sole reserve driver running in the field in Romain Grosjean’s place. He set the 17th quickest time in between the McLaren’s of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.
Image via XPB Images