Sam Bird followed his Monaco win with practice pace at Spa (Photo Credit: Vincent Curutchet/DPPI)

Sam Bird followed his Monaco win with practice pace at Spa (Photo Credit: Vincent Curutchet/DPPI)

Sam Bird and Richie Stanaway were quickest in Friday's free practice sessions at Spa.

The Mercedes reserve driver was fastest in the afternoon session, which halted towards its conclusion following an accident by Alexander Rossi bringing out the red flag, while Stanaway was quickest in the early running.

Bird heads into this weekend topping the standings after his victory in Monaco and gave an enlightening view on the contrasts of the two circuits.

Bird said: “Winning in Monaco was something I'd wanted to do. I did it and I hope I'll do it again, but now I have to forget about that and focus completely on the rest of the season. Driving this weekend is the perfect way to do that.

“Monaco is a rather slow, narrow circuit, where you're often in second gear. Spa is a different world altogether, with fast bends and long straights. We'll need a different car, particularly in terms of aerodynamic set-up.”

For Stanaway, it is an opportunity to kickstart his championship after an underwhelming opening to the campaign.

The New Zealander said: “It's better to start the weekend like this rather than against the barrier, like at Monaco!

“It's a circuit that I like a lot, and it's a completely different feeling to know from the outset where the turns are. We started working with little aerodynamic load.

“We then added a bit and the car became very quick. I really want some big results here.”

Another driving still searching for a big result is Carlin's Kevin Magnussen, who like Stanaway is keen to make an impression in FR3.5.

He was 3rd and 5th respectively on Friday.

He said: “Like everyone else, we did a lot of work on our set-ups between sessions and, unsurprisingly, we improved our times.

“You really can't make the slightest mistake with such small gaps. Personally, I made a small mistake during my best lap and it no doubt cost me first place.

“To get pole position you have to get a perfect lap, which is far from simple here.”


Afternoon times:

Pos Driver Team Time Gap
 1.  Sam Bird            ISR         1m58.838s
 2.  Richie Stanaway     Lotus       1m58.869s  + 0.031s
 3.  Kevin Magnussen     Carlin      1m58.878s  + 0.040s
 4.  Marco Sorensen      Lotus       1m58.895s  + 0.057s
 5.  Kevin Korjus        Tech 1      1m58.901s  + 0.063s
 6.  Daniil Move         P1          1m59.068s  + 0.230s
 7.  Nico Muller         Draco       1m59.071s  + 0.233s
 8.  Robin Frijns        Fortec      1m59.113s  + 0.275s
 9.  Arthur Pic          DAMS        1m59.174s  + 0.336s
10.  Mikhail Aleshin     RFR         1m59.286s  + 0.448s
11.  Carlos Huertas      Fortec      1m59.384s  + 0.546s
12.  Walter Grubmuller   P1          1m59.409s  + 0.571s
13.  Will Stevens        Carlin      1m59.585s  + 0.747s
14.  Nick Yelloly        Comtec      1m59.595s  + 0.757s
15.  Jake Rosenzweig     ISR         1m59.623s  + 0.785s
16.  Jules Bianchi       Tech 1      1m59.626s  + 0.788s
17.  Lucas Foresti       DAMS        2m00.173s  + 1.335s
18.  Alexander Rossi     Arden       2m00.377s  + 1.539s
19.  Andre Negrao        Draco       2m00.619s  + 1.781s
20.  Giovanni Venturini  BVM Target  2m00.738s  + 1.900s
21.  Zoel Amberg         Pons        2m00.812s  + 1.974s
22.  Lewis Williamson    Arden       2m00.975s  + 2.137s
23.  Yann Cunha          Pons        2m01.091s  + 2.253s
24.  Vittorio Ghirelli   Comtec      2m01.120s  + 2.282s
25.  Anton Nebylitskiy   RFR         2m01.385s  + 2.547s
26.  Nikolay Martsenko   BVM Target  2m01.528s  + 2.690s

Morning times:

Pos Driver Team Time Gap
 1.  Richie Stanaway     Lotus       1m59.441s
 2.  Alexander Rossi     Arden       1m59.769s  + 0.328s
 3.  Sam Bird            ISR         1m59.877s  + 0.436s
 4.  Nico Muller         Draco       1m59.949s  + 0.508s
 5.  Kevin Magnussen     Carlin      1m59.985s  + 0.544s
 6.  Kevin Korjus        Tech 1      1m59.995s  + 0.554s
 7.  Carlos Huertas      Fortec      2m00.024s  + 0.583s
 8.  Arthur Pic          DAMS        2m00.050s  + 0.609s
 9.  Daniil Move         P1          2m00.188s  + 0.747s
10.  Jules Bianchi       Tech 1      2m00.369s  + 0.928s
11.  Robin Frijns        Fortec      2m00.377s  + 0.936s
12.  Anton Nebylitskiy   RFR         2m00.492s  + 1.051s
13.  Nick Yelloly        Comtec      2m00.510s  + 1.069s
14.  Marco Sorensen      Lotus       2m00.578s  + 1.137s
15.  Jake Rosenzweig     ISR         2m00.698s  + 1.257s
16.  Walter Grubmuller   P1          2m00.722s  + 1.281s
17.  Vittorio Ghirelli   Comtec      2m00.992s  + 1.551s
18.  Will Stevens        Carlin      2m01.143s  + 1.702s
19.  Zoel Amberg         Pons        2m01.267s  + 1.826s
20.  Andre Negrao        Draco       2m01.287s  + 1.846s
21.  Mikhail Aleshin     RFR         2m01.320s  + 1.879s
22.  Giovanni Venturini  BVM Target  2m01.385s  + 1.944s
23.  Lewis Williamson    Arden       2m01.428s  + 1.987s
24.  Yann Cunha          Pons        2m01.618s  + 2.177s
25.  Nikolay Martsenko   BVM Target  2m02.086s  + 2.645s
26.  Lucas Foresti       DAMS        2m08.678s  + 9.237s