Formula 1 News

Alonso heads wet/dry first practice at Spa

After a session of slipping and sliding around a partially wet track, Fernando Alonso emerged quickest for Ferrari, ahead of the two Force India drivers
Friday, August 23, 2013

August 23rd, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Fernando Alonso topped the times in the first practice session for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, ahead othe Force India pair of Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil.

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The session was a mix of wet and dry throughout, with some parts of the 7km Spa-Francorchamps circuit wet while others were bone dry. Most of the circuit from Eau Rouge to Blanchimont (almost the entire circuit) was dry, but from the final chicane, through the first corner and down to Eau Rouge was quite wet. That meant that Intermediate tyres were necessary in the first half of the session, but the tyres suffered from overheating on the dry parts of the track.

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Jenson Button was quickest in the early part of the session on Intermediate tyres, and when the track had dried enough for slick tyres, he tenaciously held onto the top spot, going quicker every time another driver beat his leading time. But that couldn't last for long - the McLaren is not quick enough at this point of the season - and eventually Button finished the session in 14th place. His team-mate, Sergio Perez, managed to set the fourth fastest time, showing his speed and the improved form of McLaren around Spa.

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It was clear just how slippery the track was, with many drivers, including reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel, running wide under braking for the chicane. Vettel had a small spin in La Source (turn one), as did Valtteri Bottas. Both Bottas and Maldonado looked comfortable in the wet conditions, where the Williams seemed to work well. Once the track dried out a bit, they fell towards the middle of the time sheet.

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There is rain expected for qualifying and Sunday's race, which provides an interesting challenge for the engineers. They must choose a set-up that will work in the conditions they forecast for Saturday and Sunday afternoon, but they don't want to be caught with both cars on the wrong set-up if it does not rain on Sunday. There are therefore likely to be team-mates running different aerodynamic setups, as was seen on the Ferraris during FP1 - Massa was running less rear wing than Alonso.

FP2 is expected to be dry, which will allow the teams that have brought upgrades to Spa to test their new parts, which they were unable to do in FP1 due to the conditions. McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh, talking to the BBC commentary team during FP1, indicated that there is little point in running new parts on wet tyres, as the shape and behaviour of the dry tyres is needed to properly evaluate any aerodynamic developments.

Full results from FP1:

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:55.198 11
2 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:55.224 0.026 10
3 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:55.373 0.175 11
4 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:55.518 0.320 14
5 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:55.614 0.416 10
6 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:55.636 0.438 14
7 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:55.954 0.756 18
8 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:56.110 0.912 11
9 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:56.770 1.572 14
10 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:56.858 1.660 18
11 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:56.863 1.665 10
12 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:57.081 1.883 14
13 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:57.084 1.886 17
14 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:57.281 2.083 14
15 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:57.358 2.160 10
16 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:57.821 2.623 16
17 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:57.887 2.689 16
18 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:58.600 3.402 14
19 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:58.929 3.731 12
20 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:59.209 4.011 12
21 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:59.441 4.243 11
22 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2:03.176 7.978 15

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