Spa-Francorchamps – The Formula One teams faced mixed conditions during their first taste of the epic seven-kilometre Spa-Francorchamps circuit this year.
The first free practice session in the morning was wet before the track eventually dried out, while the afternoon was completely dry with much warmer temperatures in the region of 22 degrees centigrade.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was quickest in the morning on hard tyres at the end of the changeable session. The fastest time of the day was set by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel in the afternoon, with a benchmark of 1m49.331s on the medium tyre, ahead of his team mate Mark Webber. This was a lot quicker than last year’s equivalent time, which was set in wet conditions that are likely to surface again this weekend.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “This morning we saw some typical Spa conditions, with at one point the first and final sectors of the track being wet while the middle sector was largely dry. In the afternoon, the session was dry from start to finish, which enabled the teams to gain some more consistent data over long runs with different fuel loads.
But a strong possibility of showers remains for the rest of the weekend, so all the running carried out so far is undoubtedly useful. Towards the end of the afternoon session, both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso had a puncture on their right-rear tyre around turn 14 and we are currently investigating the cause.
From initial analysis it appears that both were caused by an outside factor, probably debris on the track. According to what we can see so far, we would expect to see between two and three pit stops on Sunday under normal race circumstances.
However, with the risk of rain and safety cars that is an inherent characteristic of Spa, a flexible approach to race tactics is sure to pay off. A wide range of effective strategies is possible with the nominations that we have made this weekend. ”