Spa Practice 1: Kobayashi tops as rain spoils first session in Belgium 31 August, 2012 Championship leader Fernando Alonso drives through the rain during the first free practice at Spa Aug.31 (GP247) After 33 days of waiting, Formula One action got underway again at Spa-Francorchamps for the first practice session of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, and it bucketed down with rain almost as if nature was spiting the teams, drivers and fans on the opening day of the second half of the season. In the end it was Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber who topped the timing screens when the chequered flag came down after the ninety minutes, which saw very little running as conditions were only good for extreme wet tyres, which would be a risky exercise, and too wet for intermediates. Kobayashi racked up 20 laps, more than anyone else in the session, on route to setting his best time of 2 minutes 11.389 seconds. Next up was Pastor Maldonado in the Williams, then the Toro Rosso pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne third and fourth respectively with Mark Webber in the Red Bull rounding out the top five and best of the championship contenders. Most of the top guns opted to do limited runs in conditions which are expected to improve as the weekend develops, but at Spa weather prediction is a gamble more than anything else. The opening session was expected to be a busy one, had the rain stayed away, as teams were ready to roll out a host of tweaks and innovations as part of the ongoing development of their cars, but these were kept under wraps due to risk of damage, and true assessment was impossible under the prevaling conditions. Considering the conditions, there were hardly any incidents although Michael Schumacher, competing in his 300th grand prix weekend, had a ‘hairy’ high speed moment at the legendary Eau Rouge. Neither of the Ferrari drivers appeared concerned with going out, with championship leader Fernando Alonso completing a mere four laps while team mate Felipe Massa had two tours to his credit, but his session came to an end when he parked his smoking Ferrari within sight of the pitlane. The mood was similar in the McLaren camp with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button completing a mere 13 laps between them. Subbed by AJN. Belgian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 31 August 2012 Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 2:11.389 20 2 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 2:11.941 0.552 14 3 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 2:12.004 0.615 12 4 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 2:12.824 1.435 15 5 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 2:13.191 1.802 13 6 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 2:13.861 2.472 16 7 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2:14.210 2.821 14 8 19 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 2:14.660 3.271 16 9 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 2:14.860 3.471 12 10 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 2:15.402 4.013 13 11 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 2:15.812 4.423 11 12 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 2:16.409 5.020 16 13 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 2:16.786 5.397 10 14 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 2:16.788 5.399 16 15 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 2:16.827 5.438 5 16 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2:16.861 5.472 8 17 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 2:17.519 6.130 14 18 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 2:18.199 6.810 10 19 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 2:19.546 8.157 12 20 23 Dani Clos HRT-Cosworth 2:19.689 8.300 12 21 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2:38.701 27.312 9 22 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2:40.749 29.360 4 23 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 2:46.580 35.191 9 24 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari No time 2 Related NewsPirelli reveal compounds for next three racesVettel: My weakness is that I am very stubborn and sometimes too stubbornDid a plastic helmet visor tear-off strip end Raikkonen challenge at Spa?F1 organisers tried to injure me claims Greenpeace protestorFIA could slap a fine on Spa orgaisers for anti-Shell protestsFerrari: The result at Spa showed just how competitive our car isVettel: We had massive pace and could control the race until the endAlonso: When you are the second fastest, you deserve to finish secondHamilton: We’ll be back to being very competitive when we get to SingaporePirelli reports from the Belgian Grand Prix muddles What a season, Bernie and his artificial rain. He doesn’t need it, nor do we.