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2010 Belgian Grand Prix (Spa-Francorchamps, Round 13, August 27th)

August 27, 2010

An overview of Spa-Francorchamps. © FIA.

Free Practice 1
Following a four week gap for the summer break, Formula 1 returns with a visit to the glorious Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium and with a certain inevitability, the dark clouds rushed in and the expected rain caressed the circuit.
The track was at its most damp during the morning session with heavy rain and occasional strikes of lightning; however as the day wore on, the sun would gradually reveal itself.

While some fans would certainly have shown a level of dismay for the rather inclement weather, some of the teams were also having mild feelings of dissatisfaction. A number of squads showed up with large updates and the conditions were not conducive to running them properly.
Ferrari arrived at Spa with a brand new floor and an upgraded blown diffuser as they try to get Fernando Alonso from the fringes of the World Championship right into the thick of battle. It helped a little as Alonso was quickest in both Friday sessions, a long way faster than team mate, Felipe Massa.
Both McLaren and Renault appeared with minor upgrades, including the début of the F-duct for the French team – both teams saw an improved pace, but cancelled out by their opponents.
Red Bull have a new rear wing package and the same front section that has caused such controversy in recent weeks – although the section has passed the revised FIA front wing flex tests, questions still remain as to whether the strength of the test itself amounts to anything.

Toward the mid-pack, Williams have whole new front and rear wing sections. Unfortunately it wasn’t the best of starts to Rubens’ Barrichello’s weekend – the Brazilian, who will be taking part in his 300th race this weekend, missed much of the first session stuck in the garage; however the veteran was still 9th fastest.
Mercedes brought a refined floor to Spa-Francorchamps and a slightly upgraded F-duct. Michael Schumacher brings a 10-place grid penalty into this race following his Hungaroring antics with Barrichello, leaving the German rather hamstrung before the cars even hit the track. Schumacher did still manage a top-10 in practice ahead of his fellow Mercedes driver, Nico Rosberg.
Force India return to the track where they had their 2009 pole position and single podium (both Giancarlo Fisichella) with their new blown diffuser for Vitantonio Liuzzi, while Adrian Sutil maintained the previous version of the VJM03. Sutil topped the opening session for a time, before being toppled by Alonso – the German driver eventually claiming 5th.

It was a poor session for Sebastien Buemi as gearbox issues left sitting in the garage for much of the morning and down in 18th spot, while Hispania replacement driver Sakon Yamamoto missed the early part of the morning with undisclosed engine problems and tests, finally getting a lap in to come last and ten seconds off the pace.

Free Practice 2
Red flags don’t happen that often in motor racing. Normally they signify a huge crash of some sort that requires on site medical assistance or possibly a wreck so big, that it requires extensive clean up work or safety fixes. Rarely are red flags thrown because children are climbing the fences by the circuit.
With just 15 minutes left on the clock in the afternoon practice session, that is exactly what happened at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The perimeter of the track is rather huge and as was discovered at the Hockenheimring in 2000, it is sometimes impossible to marker every inch of a track steeped in the forests.

There were incidents during the 90-minute run, although they were ably covered by local yellow flags – Timo Glock smashed his Virgin into the barriers at Liege corner, heavily damaging the car’s right side, while Liuzzi knocked his front wing slightly after an off near Bruxelles. This was followed by a number of other spins as drivers took slick tyres out onto a track that still had a number damp patches.

On track, the second session delivered better weather conditions, something which Adrian Sutil took a hold of as the Force India driver was fastest just behind Alonso’s Ferrari.
Kubica obtained the fastest straight-line speed of the day with an incredible 331 kph nearing the top of the Kemmel straight as the new F-duct on his Renault was put through its paces. The Pole would eventually record the 4th fastest time of the day, just marginally slower than Hamilton. Massa, Vettel and Button were next up in 5th-7th respectively, while Championship leader, Mark Webber was only 18th fastest.
Sakon Yamamoto ended the session trackside, as his Hispania machine raised an alarm inside the cockpit.

Belgium, 2nd Free Practice (August 27th)
1  ALONSO        Ferrari       1m49.032s
2  SUTIL         Force India   1m49.157s
3  HAMILTON      McLaren       1m49.248s
4  KUBICA        Renault       1m49.282s
5  MASSA         Ferrari       1m49.588s
6  VETTEL        Red Bull      1m49.689s
7  BUTTON        McLaren       1m49.755s
8  DE LA ROSA    Sauber        1m50.081s
9  BARRICHELLO   Williams      1m50.128s
10 KOBAYASHI     Sauber        1m50.200s
11 PETROV        Renault       1m50.251s
12 SCHUMACHER    Mercedes      1m50.341s
13 ROSBERG       Mercedes      1m50.382s
14 ALGUERSUARI   Toro Rosso    1m50.682s
15 HULKENBERG    Williams      1m50.831s
16 LIUZZI        Force India   1m51.520s
17 BUEMI         Toro Rosso    1m51.523s
18 WEBBER        Red Bull      1m51.636s
19 KOVALAINEN    Lotus         1m53.480s
20 TRULLI        Lotus         1m53.639s
21 DI GRASSI     Virgin        1m54.325s
22 SENNA         HRT           1m55.751s
23 YAMAMOTO      HRT           1m56.039s
24 GLOCK         Virgin        2m03.179s

Belgium, 1st Free Practice (August 27th)
1  ALONSO        Ferrari       2m00.797s
2  HAMILTON      McLaren       2m01.567s
3  KUBICA        Renault       2m02.081s
4  VETTEL        Red Bull      2m02.450s
5  SUTIL         Force India   2m02.646s
6  BUTTON        McLaren       2m02.913s
7  WEBBER        Red Bull      2m02.926s
8  KOBAYASHI     Sauber        2m03.401s
9  BARRICHELLO   Williams      2m03.424s
10 SCHUMACHER    Mercedes      2m03.489s
11 MASSA         Ferrari       2m03.601s
12 HULKENBERG    Williams      2m03.649s
13 ROSBERG       Mercedes      2m03.654s
14 DE LA ROSA    Sauber        2m03.851s
15 LIUZZI        Force India   2m04.145s
16 ALGUERSUARI   Toro Rosso    2m04.250s
17 PETROV        Renault       2m04.690s
18 BUEMI         Toro Rosso    2m05.680s
19 GLOCK         Virgin        2m05.697s
20 DI GRASSI     Virgin        2m06.695s
21 TRULLI        Lotus         2m07.189s
22 SENNA         HRT           2m07.737s
23 KOVALAINEN    Lotus         2m07.955s
24 YAMAMOTO      HRT           2m10.507s

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