Belgium – Friday – An overview

FP1:

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets this morning at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, with teammate Lewis Hamilton 0.730 seconds behind, and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen coming in third.

Behind Raikkonen, Force India’s Sergio Perez split the two Ferrari’s, finishing with a time of 1:49.247 as his best, with the two Red Bull’s of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen following. 

The session saw both Mercedes’ with new power units, with Lewis Hamilton confirmed to take his grid penalty this weekend, due to his sixth MGU-H and sixth turbocharger, one over the limit. Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson will also suffer from a grid penalty for a sixth turbocharger, a 10-place demotion.

During the session, we saw testing of Pirelli’s prototype tyres for the 2017 season, which had been modified in order to resist impacts against kerbs and other similar objects. All teams have been given two sets per driver to test in the first two practice sessions, and will then share the data with Pirelli.

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Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen testing Pirelli’s 2017 prototype tyres.

Rosberg was one of the drivers to test the halo cockpit protection, one of the possible cockpit safety measures to be introduced in 2018.

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Rosberg was one of the drivers to test the proposed ‘halo’ cockpit protection system today at Spa-Francorchamps.

It was a particularly challenging morning for McLaren. Jenson Button finished the session in 18th place, after complaints about oscillations in his gearbox. Teammate Fernando Alonso, however, had an even worse morning, as he only completed three laps, not recording an official lap time, with a water leak from his car’s ERS holding it in the pits. He later had to receive a new power unit, giving him a grid penalty.

Newcomer Esteban Ocon impressed in his debut for Manor, finishing 16th fastest, above teammate Pascal Wehrlein, who finished 19th on Pirelli’s prototype tyres.

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FP2:

Red Bull dominated this afternoon at Spa-Francorchamps, with youngster Max Verstappen topping the timesheets, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg coming in third.

This session, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel led the two prancing horses, with Force India’s Sergio Perez and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg splitting him and teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

After replacing his MGU-H and turbocharger again, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton is now on his seventh of the two, meaning that he is set for another fifteen-place grid penalty. However, this latest change did not affect the Brit, as he is already set to start at the rear of the grid, after a total of a 30-place grid penalty. In this session, he finished 13th.

A strong session for Haas, with drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez completing the practice in 8th and 10th place, with McLaren’s Jenson Button finishing in ninth to make the top 10.

The session finished without major incident, apart from a brief Virtual Safety Car period following the stopping of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, who was luckily able to re-start his car again whilst in the run-off area and returned to the pits.

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