Belgian GP: Rosberg fastest but suffers frightening tyre failure

Belgian GP: Rosberg fastest but suffers frightening tyre failure

Nico Rosberg set the fastest time in second practice for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, but his high-speed tyre failure was the big story of the session.

Rosberg had kept his much-needed momentum going in second practice at Spa, outpacing Mercedes teammate and world title rival Lewis Hamilton once again, but the explosive tyre failure ended his session early.

After beating Hamilton by 0.242s in FP1 on the medium tyre, Rosberg did so again on both mediums and fresh softs in the second session. His advantage extended to three-tenths on the softer of the compounds.

But running the soft-compound Pirelli on his 12th timed lap, Rosberg’s right-rear tyre blew just after the final right-hand kink after Stavelot on the long run towards Blanchimont. His car spun to the left side of the track, spinning back across the circuit and then to a halt backwards without hitting anything.

Debris from the crash littered the track, causing a red flag.

Video evidence showed a part of the tyre began to ‘fray’ on the Kemmel Straight, following the run through Eau Rouge, many corners before it actually failed comprehensively.

Story of the session

On the medium tyres at the start of the session, Red Bull’s Daniel Kvyat set the early pace on 1m51.135s. Rosberg then took the top spot at his second attempt, a 1m51.052s.

Daniel Ricciardo rose to second in his Red Bull, just 0.028s off Rosberg’s pace, before Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari set fastest time just before the half-hour mark on 1m50.940s.

Drivers then switched to the soft tyre, with Marcus Ericsson showing that Q1 might be an all-soft affair by shooting to the top of the times on 1m50.709s in his Sauber.

Rosberg soon set the first frontrunner benchmark with 1m49.385s. Hamilton went second on 1m49.687, losing time in the final sector to be three-tenths in arrears, with Raikkonen third at that point, over a second off the pace.

Ricciardo took third-fastest time, three-quarters of a second off the pace, with Kvyat fourth on 1m50.399s – over a second off Hamilton.

Raikkonen ended the session fifth, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean. The Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr were eighth and ninth.

Vettel ran the soft tyre early, but could only manage 1m50.940s on it, and so was down in 10th.

Williams's Valtteri Bottas – who spent time in the garage having alternate rear-wing endplates fitted before his soft-tyre run – could only set 1m51.250s and was down in 14th. Teammate Felipe Massa was 16th.

Incidents aplenty in the Ardennes

Sauber's Ericsson caused the second red flag of the session when he overcorrected a slide at Pouhon, suffering a heavy impact on left side of car as it slammed into the tyrewall.

“I hit the wall quite hard, I’m OK,” he reported.

Early in the session, Hulkenberg went off avoiding a slow Lotus of Romain Grosjean at chicane, which the stewards decided to investigate, while Grosjean later ran wide at Pouhon.

Lotus mechanics spent the early part of the session finishing the rebuild on Pastor Maldonado’s car after he crashed in FP1. He rejoined 30m into the session, and immediately left the track at Stavelot but was able to continue.

Ricciardo had a big slide through Eau Rouge, and only just caught the moment. Grosjean ended his session by stopping out on track on the approach to Pouhon.

PosDriverCarTime/GapLaps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 01:49.385 19
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 00:00.302 23
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 00:00.751 15
4 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 00:01.014 18
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 00:01.076 23
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 00:01.076 21
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus 00:01.104 21
8 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 00:01.324 18
9 Felipe Nasr Sauber 00:01.543 24
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 00:01.555 23
11 Sergio Perez Force India 00:01.586 21
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 00:01.652 24
13 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 00:01.732 25
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams 00:01.865 25
15 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 00:01.932 16
16 Felipe Massa Williams 00:02.203 26
17 Jenson Button McLaren 00:02.469 16
18 Fernando Alonso McLaren 00:03.185 14
19 Will Stevens Marussia 00:04.680 17
20 Roberto Merhi Marussia 00:04.868 14

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Belgian GP
Sub-event Friday practice 2
Track Spa-Francorchamps
Article type Practice report