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Belgian Grand Prix FP2: Rosberg quickest before tyre failure causes red flag

Belgian Grand Prix FP2: Rosberg quickest before tyre failure causes red flag
Aug 21, 2015, 2:56 PM

Nico Rosberg was the fastest driver in an incident-filled second practice session for the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps ahead o...

Nico Rosberg was the fastest driver in an incident-filled second practice session for the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton, despite a frightening moment when a tyre exploded on his Mercedes car at 180mph.

Rosberg, who had earlier also set the fastest time in the opening practice session at Spa, maintained his advantage over Hamilton and finished FP2 0.3s clear of the other Mercedes.

But with 25 minutes of the session remaining, Rosberg suffered a dramatic tyre failure as he went through the high speed Blanchimont corner, but the German managed to avoid the barriers as the car spun out of control. Rosberg was on the eleventh lap of a race simulation when the right rear gave way in spectacular fashion leaving debris strewn over the circuit. The incident caused a ten-minute red flag period, but Rosberg was able to walk back to the pits. FP2

After he returned to the paddock, Rosberg said: “[That was] not fun. I don’t know what happened, [I think] the tyre broke but I’m not sure. Something completely failed on the right rear and there is a lot of damage to the car, so that’s not good. I didn’t feel anything before so there was no warning at all.

When asked if any debris on track had punctured the tyre, he replied: “There was no debris. There is going to be a big analysis and Lewis didn’t go out again because of the incident.”

Hamilton did not immediately return the track after Rosberg's incident, but speaking after the session about what it was like to rejoin the track after his teammate’s tyre failure, Hamilton said: “It’s very easy, it’s not something you think about you just go out and drive and hope for the best. They’re going to investigate but fortunately he was not hurt.”

“I plan to fight back. The car was really quick and I really enjoyed the day. But I’ve just got to find the time. Red Bull and Ferrari look quick so it will be close.”

Technical boss Paddy Lowe said that the failure was a "very unusual situation where there seemed to be some bits of tyre structure coming out up to a minute before the actual terminal failure of the tyre. It's not something I’ve seen before.

"Pirelli have obviously taken the tyre away to analyse. I think we’ll have to wait to see what emerges from that. We’re double-checking everything to do with the car as well, obviously."

Marcus Ericsson caused the second red flag of the session shortly after action resumed from Rosberg’s incident when the Swedish driver ran wide going through the double-left hander of Pouhon and lost the rear of his car. The Sauber hit the barrier at high speed and destroyed the front and rear ends of the car. Ericsson apologised to his team over the radio and he ended the session in eighth place.

Daniil Kvyat ended up fourth behind his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian, who won the Belgian Grand Prix in 2014, did not emerge from the pits during the first 20 minutes of the session, but moved to the head of the timesheets once he did. Kvyat was reprimanded for an unsafe release from his garage and Red Bull fined €10,000, after he drove out into the path of Felipe Nasr's Sauber.

Red Bull

Under clear, bright skies over the Spa circuit, Sebastian Vettel was one of the first drivers to take to the track and he set the early pace in his Ferrari. However, Kimi Raikkonen soon bettered his teammate's time by 0.3s and shuffled the four-times world champion down the order. Raikkonen went on to finish the session in fifth behind the Red Bull drivers with Vettel well down the field in tenth place.

Nico Hulkenberg ended the session in sixth with his Force India teammate Sergio Perez down in 11th. Hulkenberg recorded a top speed of 338kph through the speed trap, but that was later beated by Max Verstappen who recorded 344kph in his Toro Rosso.

Romain Grosjean, who had a big slide as he went through the Bus Stop chicane early on in FP2, ended the session in seventh. The Frenchman had earlier sat out FP1 as Lotus reserve driver Jolyon Palmer enjoyed another practice run. Pastor Maldonado shunted the other Lotus on the exit of Malmedy in FP1 and his mechanics did not get him out until 30 minutes into the second session and he ended up in P15.

Felipe Nasr finished the second session in ninth, ahead of Vettel and Perez, with Carlos Sainz 12th and Verstappen 13th. The Dutchman had several wild moments in his early laps including running wide at Pouhon, but unlike Ericsson he avoided an accident.

Valtteri Bottas was the quickest of the Williams drivers in 14th, with his teammate Felipe Massa in 16th – but the Grove-based squad does not tend to show its true pace in Friday practice.

Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso were 17th and 18th despite the upgraded Honda engine ahead of the Manor cars of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

Friday Practice Conclusions:

Rosberg seems to have the gap over Hamilton who will have to work hard to overcome him. Red Bull appears to have the edge on Ferrari at this stage, with Williams an unknown so far. Race pace will be dictated by Pirelli’s investigation into what caused Rosberg’s tyre failure.

Practice two results

1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m49.385s - 19

2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m49.687s 0.302s 23

3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1m50.136s 0.751s 15

4 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1m50.399s 1.014s 18

5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m50.461s 1.076s 23

6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m50.461s 1.076s 21

7 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m50.489s 1.104s 21

8 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1m50.709s 1.324s 18

9 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1m50.928s 1.543s 24

10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m50.940s 1.555s 23

11 Sergio Perez Force India 1m50.971s 1.586s 21

12 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1m51.037s 1.652s 24

13 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1m51.117s 1.732s 25

14 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m51.250s 1.865s 25

15 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1m51.317s 1.932s 16

16 Felipe Massa Williams 1m51.588s 2.203s 26

17 Jenson Button McLaren 1m51.854s 2.469s 16

18 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1m52.570s 3.185s 14

19 Will Stevens Marussia 1m54.065s 4.680s 17

20 Roberto Merhi Marussia 1m54.253s 4.868s 14
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