F1 Spa FP1 Results & Report: Schumacher Fastest in Dry, Wet Belgian Practice

What Happens When It Rains in Spa

5:46am EST — Rain and a red flag slowed the first practice session of the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix weekend, as Michael Schumacher (1:54.355) led teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the timesheets. They were the only two drivers to manage early dry times before the rain lashed the Spa circuit.Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Adrian Sutil, and Felipe Massa completed the fastest five in the damp. Paul di Resta brought the action to a standstill, going off at Turn 9 after the marshals were busy returning Bruno Senna’s Renault to the garage after the Brazilian binned his new ride.

Kobayashi was the first out, in a session that looked to have no rain in the early stages, but threatened inclimate weather in the latter half. Twelve other drivers quickly followed him out. Within three minutes, all drivers but Hamilton and Massa had completed an installation lap. Schumacher (1:55.007) was the first to set a time, with teammate Rosberg second. Both Germans soon improved their times, as they were the only two lapping on the track, along with Massa and Sutil. All other drivers had returned to the garage after single installation laps.

Those drivers who were on track remained typically in flux, as Ferrari tweeted, “As usual on Fridays, there is a quite intense testing programme, with some new aero components to be evaluated. ” Massa was an unhappy Ferrari driver, with complaints that his helmet was too heavy, both on the radio and out of the car. Meanwhile, it had begun raining on bits of the Belgian track, leading Trulli across the grass. Those conditions brought all drivers back to the pit lane. Schumacher (1:54.355) and Rosberg were the only drivers with set times; Rosberg nearly a half second slower than his more illustrious teammate. Quite soon, the rain was pouring down from the angry skies, fifteen minutes into the session.

Though that rain did not last for long, it did begin again quite quickly, thus ending the running for a good portion of the first practice session. Vettel was the first back out onto the very damp track, with fifty-six minutes remaining, but only braved a single, second installation lap. Hamilton was the next to do so, with both on inters. Hamilton had a far more exciting lap than the German with a bit of aquaplaning, and he too returned quickly to the garage. Nearing the halfway point, Sutil was out, with Alguersuari tiptoeing around once as well. No one had joined Schumacher and Rosberg with a time.

Sutil’s first wet time was nearly twenty-two seconds slower than the Mercedes drivers. Multiple other drivers soon joined him in drying the track. Buemi’s first time put him faster than Sutil, but well off the dry pace from earlier in the session. His teammate soon bettered his time as more drivers began setting times in the still damp conditions. Times began stacking up, but remained seventeen seconds slower than the early dry times.

With barely more than a half hour remaining, Senna put his Renault into the barrier at Turn 9, just beyond Rivage, having lost the rear in the wet. Schumacher and Rosberg led Alguersuari, Buemi, Sutil, Senna, Barrichello, Kobayashi, Perez, Glock, Turlli, D’Ambrosio, and Ricciardo were the fourteen drivers with lap times. Webber (2:10.799) soon put the Red Bull into third with the fastest lap time in the wet as the est of the faster drivers remained sat in the garage or on minimal installation laps. Alonso’s first quick lap put him fifth, around two seconds off Webber’s pace. For his teammate, it was time for a tiny scolding, as the team told Vettel that he was pressing the “rear wing button” one hundred meters too early.

Still, Vettel joined Webber at the top of the wet times as all but Liuzzi, Maldonado, Button, Massa, and Hamilton had set a time with twenty minutes to go. Five minutes later, the session was red flagged for an incident involving di Resta in the same place Senna went off. Though the incident appeared less damaging to the Force India than the Brazilian’s, the crane at that area was still in use, taking the Renault back to the garage.

With that red flag and the clock still running, only Maldonado, Massa, and Hamilton had not set times with ten minutes to go. The session restarted with seven minutes to go, as Barrichello led the drivers back out. At that point, Button led the wet times, with Webber, Vettel, Sutil, Alguersuari, Alonso, Buemi, and di Resta completing the top ten behind the Mercedes drivers. In the final minutes, all drivers but Senna, Petrov, and di Resta were out onto the continuously drying track. In the end, the Mercedes dry times led, as Button’s fast lap put him on top of the wet times after the flag flew. Vettel also beat a quick time by Hamilton at the end.

Final Times for FP1, Belgian Grand Prix:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:54.355 13
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:54.829 +0.474 15
3. Jenson Button McLaren 2:02.740 +8.385 8
4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 2:03.752 +9.397 10
5. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 2:04.301 +9.946 7
6. Adrian Sutil Force India 2:04.663 +10.308 18
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 2:04.728 +10.373 10
8. Rubens Barrichello Williams 2:05.391 +11.036 12
9. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 2:06.583 +12.228 16
10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 2:06.886 +12.531 15
11. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2:07.055 +12.700 12
12. Sergio Perez Sauber 2:07.481 +13.126 15
13. Jarno Trulli Lotus 2:08.233 +13.878 14
14. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 2:08.239 +13.884 14
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams 2:08.918 +14.563 10
16. Mark Webber Red Bull 2:09.792 +15.437 8
17. Timo Glock Virgin Racing 2:12.278 +17.923 13
18. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 2:12.389 +18.034 10
19. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin Racing 2:12.772 +18.417 13
20. Paul di Resta Force India 2:13.058 +18.703 8
21. Karun Chandhok Lotus 2:13.090 +18.735 11
22. Vitaly Petrov Renault 2:13.601 +19.246 10
23. Bruno Senna Renault 2:14.340 +19.985 7
24. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 2:14.933 +20.578 11

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