• Belgian Grand Prix - FP1

Alonso fastest in damp first practice

ESPN Staff
August 23, 2013
Fernando Alonso set the fastest time in mixed conditions © Getty Images
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Fernando Alonso led a damp first practice session at the Belgian Grand Prix, setting the fastest time during a brief dry spell with a 1:55.198.

The Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil were second and third fastest but the times were more dependent on each driver's commitment through the faster parts of the circuit rather than car performance as several damp patches never fully dried out.

Roughly 30 minutes into the session Mark Webber was the first to attempt a lap on dry tyres, bolting on a set of the hard compound Pirellis and tentatively making his way out on circuit. However, he did not fully commit to a fast lap, taking two down shifts each lap at Eau Rouge, and finished the session 19th fastest.

Sergio Perez looked impressive from trackside, undaunted by the twitch from the rear of his McLaren at the top of Eau Rouge after keeping his foot flat through the compression. A time of 1:55.518 was his reward as he ended the session fourth fastest. Nico Rosberg was fifth fastest but was able to attack Eau Rouge in drying conditions without the rear wheels coming unstuck, suggesting the Mercedes still has plenty of downforce in Spa-specification.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel finished sixth fastest and 0.438s off Alonso's pace but suffered a couple of half spins as he went searching for grip, one at La Source and one at the final chicane. Esteban Gutierrez was seventh fastest after an impressive run in the Sauber, which was 0.2s faster than team-mate Nico Hulkenberg by the time the rain returned for the final 20 minutes.

Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top ten with Felipe Massa 11th and Pastor Maldonado 12th. Despite leading the time sheets on intermediates, Jenson Button finished 14th ahead of Lewis Hamilton in 15th. Heikki Kovalainen ended up 16th as he took over Charles Pic's car for the morning session and was a fraction of a second faster than race-regular Giedo van der Garde.

The two Lotuses finished the session 21st and 22nd after missing their chance to hit the track during the dry spell. Raikkonen had an odd moment when he was flat out in 7th gear heading through Blanchimont and caught a twitch from the rear. He lifted clean off the throttle and let the car decelerate while checking the steering by taking his hands off the wheel. He headed straight for the pits after.