Nico Rosberg headed Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton come the end of the first practice session of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.
Rosberg’s quickest – a 1:51.577s – came just under one hour into the session, piping Hamilton’s best by 0.097s which had been set only moments earlier.
Beyond a single brief off at the final chicane at the half hour mark, it had been a reasonably quiet session for Rosberg, as he settles back into the groove following the four-week break.
There was some more excitement for Hamilton, who – like Rosberg – had an off at the final chicane, but more significantly, came close to losing the car through Eau Rouge; however the skilled Briton held his machine.
Fernando Alonso ended the session 3rd fastest and initially traded quickest times with Rosberg during the opening thirty minutes, before the Mercedes man set recorded a lap at 1:51.724s, taking him beyond the Ferrari’s means. Alonso’s fastest run of 1:51.805 gave the Spaniard an advantage of six-tenths over next man Jenson Button (McLaren).
Button was alone in 4th – four-tenths clear of Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), although the former World Champion suffered a brief issue with his DRS, when it locked open. Raikkonen endured a tough time with his Ferrari as he continues to struggle with the feel of the F14T machine. The Finn also spun at La Source.
Next up was Sergio Perez (6th, Force India), while Kevin Magnussen (McLaren), Nico Hulkenberg (Force India), Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) ran the Mexican close. Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top ten for Williams.
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull, 11th) lost a significant amount of time due to burnt exhaust, while at the Red Bull junior team – Toro Rosso – Daniil Kvyat (12th) suffered from braking issues.
Both Lotus’s of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado suffered poor rear tyre wear. At Sauber, Giedo van de Garde was complaining of a loss of power, limiting his run.
What will now be Alexander Rossi’s only session this weekend saw him end the morning 1.4s shy of teammate Jules Bianchi.
Caterham new boy André Lotterer outpaced teammate Marcus Ericsson during their first session together. The German WEC and Super Formula racer registered a lap one-tenth quicker than the Swedish rookie, although as ever in Free Practice One, it is unknown what programmes were being run in relation to each other.