Maldonado on top in free practice Venezuelan sets the pace in Spa Pastor Maldonado came out on the top of the timesheets in overcast but dry conditions during this morning's free practice session at Spa-Francorchamps...
Maldonado on top in free practice
Venezuelan sets the pace in Spa
Pastor Maldonado came out on the top of the timesheets in overcast but dry conditions during this morning's free practice session at Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, pipping championship leader Giorgio Pantano and Vitaly Petrov by less than one tenth.
Maldonado set the pace from the start of the session, with his best time of 1:57.055 coming ten minutes into the period despite strong pressure from the Italian, who was just 0.048 behind when the chequered flag dropped. The big surprise was the relative positions of his title rivals, with Lucas di Grassi and Bruno Senna finishing in 14th and 15th positions respectively.
With little time for repairs before qualifying most of the grid drove conservatively, although Sakon Yamamoto spun in front of his teammate Romain Grosjean early in the session but stayed off the wall, while the Frenchman himself spun just before the pitlane entrance as he was coming in for new tyres. In the second half of the session some of the drivers took a gamble by running almost no rear wing, most notably Karun Chandhok and Kamui Kobayashi: both were fast through Eau Rouge but lost time on the rest of the circuit, and with the Japanese driver finding the wall later on the lap it's unlikely they will repeat the experiment in qualifying.
Fifteen drivers were within a second of Maldonado's time: right behind the top three were Sebastien Buemi, Davide Valsecchi, Chandhok, Andreas Zuber, Andy Soucek, Kobayashi and Jerome D'Ambrosio. With the clouds getting ever lower at the fabled circuit there is a very good chance that qualifying will be wet, which will throw the guidebook out the window and threatens to be unmissable session in just a few hours time.