Nico Rosberg has continued atop the timesheets in Friday’s second practice session of the Belgian Grand Prix, but it was another session of drama for the Mercedes driver.
This time, the German suffered a high-speed tyre blowout on the approach to the Blanchimont corner; fortunately he managed to avoid crashing into the barriers and still finished the session fastest overall from teammate Lewis Hamilton.
His best time of the session was a 1:49.385 posted on the Soft Pirelli tyres, putting him three-tenths of a second faster than the reigning World Champion at the end of the session.
Rosberg’s incident was the first of two red flags in an interrupted session, but he also wasn’t the only driver to have potential tyre worries as Pirelli found the spotlight quickly being focused on its rubber.
Four-time Belgian Grand Prix winner Kimi Räikkönen also had his tyres blistering in the unexpectedly warm conditions, and there is no doubt that Ferrari will be keen to find out why, as will Mercedes. The Finn finished fifth-fastest in the session, posting an identical lap-time to Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg.
Räikkönen finished behind the Red Bull Racing duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat, who both seemed very comfortable in their RB11s to end the FP2 session without any major reliability hiccups. It was a very positive day as the team tried the latest upgrades to its Renault power units.
Also sporting upgraded engines were the two McLaren Hondas of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, who finished well down the timesheets. The new power units means both drivers will start from the back of the grid thanks to a combined 55-place grid penalty between the duo; Button receives 25 places and Alonso gets 30 places.
Marcus Ericsson had a tough session when he ended up in the barriers after losing control of his Sauber at the exit of Pouhon, bringing out the session’s first red flag. It was a costly mistake for the Swedish driver, who caused heavy rear-end damage and destroyed one of the rear wings the team had designed specifically for this event. Nonetheless, he and teammate Felipe Nasr both finished inside the top-ten, suggesting they have made some progress thanks to running a newer specification Ferrari engine for the first time.
Although he set the seventh-fastest time of the session, Lotus’ Romain Grosjean was another driver to stop out on track. The Frenchman suffered a loss of power just at the end of the 2 session. It added another problem to an already lengthy list; the team’s mechanics had to work frantically on the sister E23 Hybrid of Pastor Maldonado after the Venezuelan’s sizeable accident in FP1.
Saturday’s final practice session at Spa-Francorchamps begins at 11am local time (GMT +2).
|2015 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Results|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:49.385||19|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:49.687||+ 0.302||23|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:50.136||+ 0.751||15|
|4.||Daniil Kvyat||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:50.399||+ 1.014||18|
|5.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:50.461||+ 1.076||23|
|6.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B||1:50.461||+ 1.076||21|
|7.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:50.489||+ 1.104||21|
|8.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:50.709||+ 1.324||18|
|9.||Felipe Nasr||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:50.928||+ 1.543||24|
|10.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:50.940||+ 1.555||23|
|11.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B||1:50.971||+ 1.586||21|
|12.||Carlos Sainz||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:51.037||+ 1.652||24|
|13.||Max Verstappen||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:51.117||+ 1.732||25|
|14.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:51.250||+ 1.865||25|
|15.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:51.317||+ 1.932||16|
|16.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:51.588||+ 2.203||26|
|17.||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:51.854||+ 2.469||16|
|18.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:52.570||+ 3.185||14|
|19.||Will Stevens||Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B||1:54.065||+ 4.680||17|
|20.||Roberto Merhi||Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B||1:54.253||+ 4.868||14|
Image via FOM