After nearly a month off for the summer break, Formula One started back today with a bang. Despite terrible track conditions early on with torrential rain in Spa, Fernando Alonso was the one to beat and took the lead in both practice ...
After nearly a month off for the summer break, Formula One started back today with a bang. Despite terrible track conditions early on with torrential rain in Spa, Fernando Alonso was the one to beat and took the lead in both practice sessions.
The Spaniard got off to a flying start in first practice, with a lap time of 2min0.797secs, which he later beat after second practice came to a close this afternoon. By the time the Ferrari driver took to the track for a second time, it had dried out since the morning's rainfall, and he recorded an even more impressive time of 1min49.032.
Although he was pleased with the results in practice, Alonso recognizes that Spa can be very challenging.
"....It has definitely been a positive day, because the car seems to respond well in all track conditions that we encountered today. The times count for little, or nothing at all, because when the track changes so quickly, times can improve or get worse by two or three seconds depending on the moment when you are out on the circuit."
His closest competition of the day came for Adrian Sutil, who failed to close the margin and trailed Alonso by 0.125secs.
Among the other top contenders in the continuing Drivers' and Constructors' Championship battle, was McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who finished the best of the bunch in third. While his team mate, and current World Champion, Jenson Button could only manage seventh place, but was ahead of Pedro de la Rosa for Sauber.
Another in-team battle was seen with Robert Kubica for Renault, who not for the first time this season, out performed his team mate Viltaly Petrov. The Polish driver beat the Russian Rookie to secure fourth place, leaving Petrov down in eleventh position.
Other drivers who made it into the top ten included Felipe Massa for Ferrari, who finished just behind Kubica, followed by Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull. Rubens Barrichello also landed himself in a desirable slot, and finished practice in ninth place, with Kamui Kobayashi rounding off the top ten in the second Sauber.
It was the controversy off the track, which hampered the end of second practice for the drivers. Some of the spectators at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, were found to be in a dangerous place, which resulted in the stewards red flagging the session. The delay of ten minutes to lead the spectators to safety, caused frustration for the drivers who were left with five minutes to spare. When they finally got the all clear to resume the session, there was a further delay in the pits when the light appeared to be stuck on red. The clock was ticking fast and this added problem, left just three minutes until the session was over.
There were a few casualties at the end of second practice, who were less than impressed with the delays they faced, in the closing stages of the final session.
The Hungarian Grand Prix winner Mark Webber, was one driver who clearly vented his frustration with the situation. The Red Bull driver was left with little time to set a competitive lap in second practice, which left him near the back in eighteenth place.
"We should have at least stopped the clock...We wait all day for a dry track...Everyone's here...It's common sense".
Webber also accompanied the new teams, who continue to battle against each other for higher grid slots.
Timo Glock was the first to bow out of this competition for Virgin Racing, as he lost control of his car in the wet conditions, and ended up flying off the track rather than staying on it.
Vitantonio Liuzzi also suffered the same problem, and he did not have enough grip to keep himself on the track.
Michael Schumacher, who is well known for being the rain master in wet conditions, had a disastrous day at Spa. As he began his flying lap in second practice, the seven times World Champion had a slight wobble, but just managed to keep himself on the track. He ended the session in twelfth position, but still faces a ten-place grid penalty for the race on Sunday, after he nearly ran Rubens Barrichello off the track, and into the pit wall at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Lotus were the winners of the new teams at the end of second practice, as they out performed both Hispania and Virgin Racing, to land Heikki Kovalainen in nineteenth position and Jarno Trulli in twentieth place.
As the drivers take to the track tomorrow, all eyes will be on Fernando Alonso to see what else he can do, as he attempts to secure pole position following his outstanding performance in today's practice sessions.