Rosberg fastest in FP2 despite high-speed tyre failure

Nico Rosberg took the honours in second practice in Belgium despite suffering a frightening-looking high-speed tyre failure on his Mercedes that forced him to end his session early.

Rosberg was running through Blanchimont with just under half an hour remaining of the session when without apparent warning, his rear-tyre exploded, with the German lucky to keep the car out of the wall at one of the fastest points on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Rosberg had earlier in the session set the pace, with his best time of 1m49.687s enough to end 0.302s faster than team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Just like in opening practice, Daniel Ricciardo was the best of the rest behind the Mercedes-duo, ending up 0.751s back in third, while his Infiniti Red Bull Racing team-mate Daniil Kvyat was a further 0.263s back in fourth.

Kimi Raikkonen was fifth for Scuderia Ferrari with a time of 1m50.461s, identical to the thousandth of a second to the time set by Nico Hulkenberg of Sahara Force India, who placed sixth after setting his time after the Ferrari driver.

After sitting out the first session to allow test driver Jolyon Palmer to get more seat time, Romain Grosjean returned to his Lotus F1 Team car to set the seventh fastest time, just over 1.1 seconds adrift of Rosberg’s pacesetting time.

Marcus Ericsson was eighth quickest for the Sauber F1 Team, but ended his session in the barriers after losing control at the exit of Pouhon. The team are using the 2015-specification Ferrari engine for the first time this weekend, and showed good pace with Felipe Nasr just behind his team-mate in ninth.

Sebastian Vettel was down in tenth in the second Ferrari, just ahead of the second Force India of Sergio Perez, while Scuderia Toro Rosso duo Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen were virtually inseparable, with the Spaniard getting a tiny advantage of the Dutchman this time around.

Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were down in fourteenth and sixteenth respectively for the Williams Martini Racing team, separated by the second Lotus of Pastor Maldonado, who was able to take to the track mere hours after crashing during opening practice thanks to the good work by his Lotus mechanics.

McLaren-Honda duo Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso were down in seventeenth and eighteenth respectively as they put some mileage on their new power units, although both will have further fresh engines on Saturday morning.

As in the first session, the two Manor F1 Team drivers were at the back, Will Stevens again ahead of Roberto Merhi but by a reduced margin of just under two-tenths of a second.

Spa-Francorchamps Free Practice 2 Times

16Nico RosbergGERMercedes1m49.385s
244Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes1m49.687s
33Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Renault1m50.136s
426Daniil KvyatRUSRed Bull-Renault1m50.399s
57Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari1m50.461s
627Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-Mercedes1m50.461s
78Romain GrosjeanFRALotus-Mercedes1m50.489s
89Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari1m50.709s
912Felipe NasrBRZSauber-Ferrari1m50.928s
105Sebastian VettelGERFerrari1m50.940s
1111Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes1m50.971s
1255Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault1m51.037s
1333Max VerstappenNEDToro Rosso-Renault1m51.117s
1477Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes1m51.250s
1513Pastor MaldonadoVENLotus-Mercedes1m51.317s
1619Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes1m51.588s
1722Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda1m51.854s
1814Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda1m52.570s
1928Will StevensGBRManor-Ferrari1m54.065s
2098Roberto MerhiESPManor-Ferrari1m54.253s