Nico Rosberg topped both practice sessions on Friday in Belgium, but admitted he was lucky that he did not end up in the wall at Blanchimont after his right-rear tyre exploded at high-speed.
The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS driver felt his car was quick again this weekend, but admitted he was shocked when the tyre failed as spectacularly as it did, especially as he was approaching one of the fastest corners on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
“It’s good to be back on track after the summer break,” insisted Rosberg. “The circuit is fantastic and our car seems to be quick again. It felt great out there and I was happy with my pace.
“In the second session it was quite a shocking moment for me when my rear tyre failed. When you are going as fast as 300 km/h and something goes wrong, that’s a horrible feeling.
“I thought I would end up in the wall and, to be honest, it was pure luck that I didn’t. We now need to investigate with Pirelli what happened.”
Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe admitted the tyre failure meant the team adjusted its programme with Rosberg’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton as they looked into the cause of the dramatic failure of the German driver’s tyre.
“With one car ruled out of running, we decided not to continue the regular programme with Lewis until we had understood the problem,” said Lowe.
“We’ll be working hard with Pirelli this evening to understand what happened and how we can ensure that we’re operating safely for the rest of the weekend.”