Belgian GP: Rosberg leads Hamilton in first practice

Nico Rosberg set the pace in opening practice for the Belgian Grand Prix, leading Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Formula 1's return to action after the summer break.

Rosberg spent most of the morning in the garage, and only set his first time over an hour into the session. But when he did go out, the German jumped straight to P1, a position he would not leave.

The Mercedes driver outpaced Hamilton by 0.242 seconds.

Mercedes' rivals were not far from the dominant team's pace, with Daniel Ricciardo putting his Red Bull in third just 0.291 seconds off Rosberg's pace.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest for Ferrari, less than four tenths behind, and ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Daniil Kvyat completed a promising start to the weekend for Red Bull by setting the sixth quickest time, ahead of the Toro Rossos of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.

Sergio Perez in the Force India and Valtteri Bottas in the Williams completed the top 10.

McLaren had a subdued session and finished down 16th and 18th with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

Story of the session

Toro Rosso's Sainz was the first man to appear on the timesheets 15 minutes into the session, with teammate Max Verstappen next to set a time.

Hamilton re-established the usual order minutes later, however, putting his Mercedes on top of the times with a lap of 1:52.192, over a second faster than anyone else at the time.

The world champion, whose car sported a new-style rear wing, went faster a few laps later, setting a new benchmark with a 1:51.993, although Ricciardo also raised his pace to be some four tenths slower than the Briton.

But Hamilton raised the bar again and improved to a 1:51.340, opening the gap to over a second before the half-hour mark.

Teammate Rosberg, on the other hand, had a slow start to the session, the German not taking advantage of the extra set of tyres available for the first 30 minutes, managing just three untimed laps.

After a break, Raikkonen moved up to second place in the Ferrari, just over a tenth of a second slower than Hamilton.

But the session was red-flagged 50 minutes in when Pastor Maldonado lost control of his Lotus on the exit of Malmedy, crashing into the tyre barrier and damaging his car.

The action resumed after a few minutes were spent repairing the damaged barrier.

Rosberg finally set his first time of the day over an hour into the session, the German moving straight to first position with a 1:51.200.

The Mercedes driver bettered that moments later, going over a tenth faster. 

F1 - Belgian Grand Prix - Free Practice 1
01   N. Rosberg   Mercedes 1:51.082   19
02   L. Hamilton   Mercedes 1:51.324 +0.242 24
03   D. Ricciardo   Red Bull 1:51.373 +0.291 18
04   K. Raikkonen   Ferrari 1:51.478 +0.396 23
05   S. Vettel   Ferrari 1:51.866 +0.784 21
06   D. Kvyat   Red Bull 1:51.960 +0.878 18
07   M. Verstappen   Toro Rosso 1:52.158 +1.076 27
08   C. Sainz   Toro Rosso 1:52.421 +1.339 26
09   S. Perez   Force India 1:52.423 +1.341 20
10   V. Bottas   Williams 1:52.511 +1.429 19
11   P. Maldonado   Lotus 1:52.539 +1.457 15
12   N. Hulkenberg   Force India 1:52.614 +1.532 20
13   F. Nasr   Sauber 1:52.640 +1.558 16
14   F. Massa   Williams 1:52.653 +1.571 22
15   M. Ericsson   Sauber 1:53.426 +2.344 16
16   F. Alonso   McLaren 1:53.502 +2.420 15
17   J. Palmer   Lotus 1:53.799 +2.717 23
18   J. Button   McLaren 1:54.225 +3.143 14
19   W. Stevens   Manor 1:55.501 +4.419 16
20   R. Merhi   Manor 1:56.086 +5.004 17
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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Belgian GP
Sub-event Friday practice 1
Track Spa-Francorchamps
Article type Practice report