F1 Spa FP2 Results & Report: Webber Quickest on Friday as Rain Falls Again

What Happens When It’s Dry, Then Wet

9:37am EST — Mark Webber (1:50.321) was the fastest driver of the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix weekend on Friday, leading Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, and Felipe Massa as the fastest five in the afternoon practice session. Though the track was damp at the start, it soon dried and drivers were out testing longer runs on both slick tire compounds, right up to the point where rain began falling heavily again just past the halfway point. The most lurid moment came for Timo Glock when the rain lightened near the end of the session, as he had a long spin and slide across the track and a paved runoff area. He continued on with an unscathed car.

The Mercedes duo led the timesheets in the first practice, as the German drivers were the only ones to set a time before rain began pelting down early in the morning practice session. Schumacher (1:54.355) led his younger teammate, while late drying times from Button (2:02.740), Vettel, Hamilton, Sutil, Massa, Barrichello, Alguersuari, and Kobayashi completed the fastest ten. Though many drivers slid off the slippery track, only Senna and di Resta made contact with the barriers. Both drivers went off at Turn 9, as Senna’s crash damaged his Renault more heavily than di Resta’s his Force India. However, it was di Resta’s that brought out a red flag, as the equipment to remove his car form the circuit was still busy returning the Renault to the garage.

Rain was not falling minutes before the second, ninety minute, session began, though the track was a bit damp. Kobayashi led a bevy of drivers out in the dry-ish, slippery, and increasingly damp conditions. Just five minutes into the session, Kobayashi set the first time of 2:16.279, with Ricciardo second fastest. At that point, all but Vettel, Hamilton, Senna, and di Resta had already made their way onto the track. Webber was quickly fastest by nearly five seconds. He smartly bettered his time on the next lap, despite a bit of traffic and some seemingly careful driving.

Alonso was just three tenths slower on his own quick lap, as Alguersuari, Kobayashi, Schumacher, Petrov, Barrichello, Buemi, Maldonado, and Rosberg were the fastest ten, ten minutes into the session. Still, neither McLaren driver nor Massa had not set a time. Webber continued to improve, while a surprising Senna slotted into third fastest, a hundredth slower than Alonso. Soon, they were displaced by Petrov, showing some across the board speed from the Renault, only for Senna to pop up to second fastest. Webber, however, remained over a second faster, right up to the point that Senna, then Vettel took their own times to the top. Vettel was nearly 1.9s faster than Senna as the track continued to dry. Times came fast and furious as the drivers took half- and full-second chunks out of their own and each others’ time on the drying track.

When the session was one third over, many of the leading drivers were back in the garage, with rain forecast for the halfway point of the session. Button (2:02.206) led Schumacher, Alguersuari, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Vettel, Buemi, Barrichello, Perez, and Schumacher as the fastest ten, though Webber (2:01.015) took over a second off Button’s time on his improved lap. Interestingly, Hamilton and Massa had not yet posted even an installation lap, nor had di Resta. McLaren did explain without an actual explanation, tweeting, “For all those wondering what Lewis is up to, we’re warming his car up now and he’ll be out shortly.”

Alonso was out on slick (medium) tires in the minutes before the rain came, working his Ferrari quite hard for a fastest of all first sector, second sector, and a lap time (1:56.292) that was just over four and a half seconds faster than Webber. Teammate Massa was quickly second fastest, but still three seconds slower. Schumacher, also on the drier tire, moved to second while Hamilton, complaining of vibration, went third fastest. Alonso, on the warmer tires, improved his time (1:53.942) for the fastest to that point on the weekend, only to lose the top spot to Schumacher.

Drivers were testing out the softer compound on the still-drying track as the halfway point approached, with cameras able to pick up Hamilton’s glowing brakes in the darkening conditions. Vettel (1:51.794) led at the halfway point, with rain rapidly approaching, as Schumacher, Rosberg, Perez, Hamilton, Webber, Alonso, Barrichello, Alguersuari, and Buemi the top ten.

Soon, di Resta and Rosberg bettered Vettel’s time, only to have Alonso drop the lap time down to 1:50.461. Webber, after a stop for the softer tires due to the incoming rain, took just three hunrdedths off Alonso’s time, then another tenth as his tires warmed up. Button slotted in behind them, with Hamilton and Massa rounding out the top five as the rain began to fall.

Webber (1:50.321) led Alonso, Button, Hamilton, Massa, Rosberg, Perez, Hulkenberg, di Resta, and Vettel as the top ten, with Vettel 1.469s slower than his leading teammate. All drivers had managed to set a time, though slowest Petrov was nearly twelve seconds slower than Webber. With the rain, every driver was soon back into the garage and out of the car.

Kobayashi and Glock headed back out with fifteen minutes remaining. Glock soon had a massive spin and slide in his Virgin Racing car across a tarmac runoff area, then continuing on unscathed. Webber joined them, as did a couple of other drivers with ten minutes remaining and the conditions worsening. In the closing stages, only the spray off the rear wings marked the drivers’ progress on the track in the closing rush to get out for some practice starts. Webber’s early quick time stood, and the session ended with a damp whimper.

Final Times for FP2, 2011 Belgian Grand Prix:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:50.321 22
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:50.461 +0.140 18
3. Jenson Button McLaren 1:50.770 +0.449 9
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:50.838 +0.517 9
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:51.218 +0.897 14
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:51.242 +0.921 22
7. Sergio Perez Sauber 1:51.655 +1.334 20
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:51.725 +1.404 17
9. Paul di Resta Force India 1:51.751 +1.430 8
10. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:51.790 +1.469 13
11. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:51.922 +1.601 22
12. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:52.750 +2.429 20
13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:52.780 +2.459 25
14. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:52.911 +2.590 24
15. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1:53.009 +2.688 24
16. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:53.156 +2.835 17
17. Bruno Senna Renault 1:53.835 +3.514 20
18. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1:55.051 +4.730 20
19. Timo Glock Virgin Racing 1:55.494 +5.173 22
20. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:56.202 +5.881 15
21. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin Racing 1:56.816 +6.495 20
22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1:57.450 +7.129 19
23. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1:57.612 +7.291 24
24. Vitaly Petrov Renault 2:02.234 +11.913 12

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