2011 Belgian Grand Prix (Rd 12, Free Practice 1, August 26th, TV Notes)

Spa-Francorchamps © Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

On the weekend of his 20th anniversary Formula 1 début, Michael Schumacher topped first practice at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps.

The Mercedes veteran secured the top of the time sheets with a best of 1:54.355 – just under half-a-second quicker than teammate Nico Rosberg.

It is unlikely that this will be seen as a Mercedes resurgence however.
Within ten minutes of the green flag, rain clods drew in, quickly releasing its contents onto the circuit below. Cool conditions in the region made sure that track would fail to reach optimum conditions during the session.

For McLaren and Williams, the rain was far from ideal. McLaren arrived at the Belgian arena with a heavily updated rear wing and DRS, while also having made modifications to their exhaust system.
Throughout the session, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button ran different rear wings as they attempted to draw a picture of where they were in comparison to Red Bull and Ferrari, but with Button only completing eight laps and Hamilton running only seven, little useful information was gained.
Indeed Hamilton curtailed a run early in the session after narrowly avoiding a big crash at the fast Blanchimont corner. The Englishman chanced upon a river running across the circuit half way around the bend, sending the McLaren in a violent wobble.

Williams brought a somewhat bulbous rear wing design to the Belgian Grand Prix as they fight to bring themselves back up the order.
Again the tricky conditions made it difficult to judge whether the upgrade was worth the effort – something that will hopefully become more apparent in the dry.
Ferrari, too, lost time as they endeavoured to test several upgraded components – the damp conditions leaving them little opportunity to form a true picture of their machine at this stage.

It was not a good morning for Renault. The French / Swiss team curtailed Vitaly Petrov’s session early due to power steering issues, but suffered another set back when Bruno Senna backed his R31 into the barrier at Bruxelles.
The Brazilian incurred rear wing and rear suspension damage to his machine, ending his practice thirty minutes early.

Senna was not the only driver to have an off there. Paul di Resta also suffered as he slid helplessly into the same spot, damaging the right rear suspension of his Force India machine.

Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps
 1.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1m54.355s             13
 2.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1m54.829s  + 0.474s   15
 3.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      2m02.740s  + 8.385s   8
 4.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      2m03.752s  + 9.397s   10
 5.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      2m04.301s  + 9.946s   7
 6.  Adrian Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  2m04.663s  + 10.308s  18
 7.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               2m04.728s  + 10.373s  10
 8.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams-Cosworth     2m05.391s  + 11.036s  12
 9.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari    2m06.583s  + 12.228s  16
10.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        2m06.886s  + 12.531s  15
11.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               2m07.055s  + 12.700s  12
12.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        2m07.481s  + 13.126s  15
13.  Jarno Trulli        Lotus-Renault         2m08.233s  + 13.878s  14
14.  Sebastien Buemi     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    2m08.239s  + 13.884s  14
15.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Cosworth     2m08.918s  + 14.563s  10
16.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      2m09.792s  + 15.437s  8
17.  Timo Glock          Virgin-Cosworth       2m12.278s  + 17.923s  13
18.  Tonio Liuzzi        HRT-Cosworth          2m12.389s  + 18.034s  10
19.  Jerome D'Ambrosio   Virgin-Cosworth       2m12.772s  + 18.417s  13
20.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  2m13.058s  + 18.703s  8
21.  Karun Chandhok      Lotus-Renault         2m13.090s  + 18.735s  11
22.  Vitaly Petrov       Renault               2m13.601s  + 19.246s  10
23.  Bruno Senna         Renault               2m14.340s  + 19.985s  7
24.  Daniel Ricciardo    HRT-Cosworth          2m14.933s  + 20.578s  11

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