- Belgian Grand Prix - FP1
Alonso quickest after wet first practice at Spa
A drenched Fernando Alonso set the fastest time of the first session of free practice for the Belgian Grand Prix, as the predicted rain hit the famous Spa Francorchamps circuit.
Alonso set a 2:00.797 to finish the opening session ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel.
With rain expected to play a part for the majority of the weekend, the big hitters were out on track early on their full wet weather tyres to familiarise themselves with the circuit and find out the likeliest areas of standing water.
After Force India's impressive showing at Spa last year, Adrian Sutil was the first driver to set a competitive time in the wet, a 2:03.331 laying the benchmark. Sutil's time stood until just after the hour mark, first Alonso then Vettel going faster despite the rain continuing to fall. Alonso lowered his time further to a 2:01.223 before another deluge of greater intensity prompted cars to scamper to the safety of the pits.
The rain relented enough for cars to take to the circuit for the final twenty minutes, and with blue skies and sunshine coming out for the first time, the lap times dropped accordingly with Alonso bettering his time again.
Hamilton decided not to head out when conditions were at their best, while Mercedes packed up altogether and decamped to the briefing room with ten minutes remaining. As a result the times do not give a clear indication of the order this weekend.
Nevertheless, Jenson Button set the sixth fastest time behind Sutil and ahead of Mark Webber and Kamui Kobayashi in seventh and eighth. Celebrating his 300th grand prix, Rubens Barrichello set the ninth fastest time after spending the first 70 minutes of the session with nothing more than an installation to his name. Michael Schumacher was tenth fastest ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, who had extensive work undertaken on his car towards the end of the session.
Teams with updates include Ferrari with an updated blown floor, Renault with a fully-working F-duct and Force India experimenting with a blown diffuser on Tonio Liuzzi's car. Despite reports to the contrary, there appeared to be minor changes to the front end of the Red Bull and the team experimented with aerodynamic flow paint early in the session.
The blue skies overhead as the chequered flag fell promised better conditions and more running in this afternoon's session.