Belgium FP1: Rosberg heads Hamilton

Nico Rosberg tops in FP1 at Spa

Nico Rosberg tops in FP1 at Spa

It was back to business for Formula 1 at Spa-Francrochamps, and at the same time business as usual as Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were comfortably quicker than their nearest rivals of which Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari was the next best at the end of the opening free practice session of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

Returning refreshed from the August break, Rosberg set a best time of 1:51.577 seconds around the classic Ardennes circuit.

Hamilton, who is 11 points adrift after 11 of 19 races, was a mere 0.097 slower on a cloudy but bright morning at the longest track on the calendar which is renowned for fickle weather conditions. The one-two was their fifth in succession in practice.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was third fastest with McLaren‘s Jenson Button fourth, 0.228 and 0.827 of a second adrift of the top time respectively.

Fernando Alonso was best of the rest

Fernando Alonso was best of the rest

The Mercedes-powered teams were predicted to dominate and had seven cars in the top ten but Ferrari’s showed they may have a some fight in them, with four times Spa winner Kimi Raikkonen fifth fastest despite a spin at La Source. He ended the session a second down on these teammate.

As is their way of late Williams had a low-key start, with Finland’s Valtteri Bottas 10th on the time sheets and Brazilian Felipe Massa 15th, while Red Bull‘s Daniel Ricciardo, winner of the previous race in Hungary, was ninth. Many of the teams trying new development parts in the first 90 minutes session.

At the bottom end of the field, Germany’s Andre Lotterer limbered up for his F1 debut with Caterham as a replacement for Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi by lapping faster than Swedish rookie team mate Marcus Ericsson. The CT05 featuring a new nose, replacing the unsightly earlier solution.

American Alexander Rossi replaced Max Chilton for the session at Marussia but his hopes of completing the weekend and racing for the first time evaporated when the Briton was reinstated following contractual wrangles. (GP247-Reuters)

Belgian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 22 August 2014
Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:51.577 25
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:51.674 0.097 24
3 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:51.805 0.228 16
4 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:52.404 0.827 21
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:52.818 1.241 17
6 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:52.903 1.326 24
7 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:52.922 1.345 23
8 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:52.937 1.360 22
9 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:52.972 1.395 19
10 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:53.172 1.595 20
11 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:53.369 1.792 11
12 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:53.594 2.017 21
13 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:53.597 2.020 20
14 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:53.703 2.126 14
15 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:53.968 2.391 20
16 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 1:54.189 2.612 20
17 36 Giedo van der Garde Sauber-Ferrari 1:54.335 2.758 16
18 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:55.336 3.759 21
19 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:55.782 4.205 19
20 42 Alexander Rossi Marussia-Ferrari 1:57.232 5.655 20
21 45 Andre Lotterer Caterham-Renault 1:57.886 6.309 24
22 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:57.977 6.400 24