Rosberg quickest with Halo in FP1 at Spa-Francorchamps

Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Nico Rosberg sets an early lap of 1:48.348 to top the time sheets for the first practice session of the Belgian Grand Prix ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS driver completed some of the session testing the Halo, with his quickest lap time coming during this period of testing. Rosberg’s first time of 1:49.481 was also completed with the Halo, this time was two second faster than last year FP1 time of 1:51.082.

Hamilton finished the session only 0.730 seconds behind Rosberg, but he was unable to improve on his timings to beat Rosberg to the top. Behind the Briton was the Scuderia Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, while only 0.127s behind Raikkonen was the first Sahara Force India of Sergio Perez.

Perez split the Ferrari’s as Sebastian Vettel finished in fifth with a time of 1:49.768. Behind Vettel was Daniel Ricciardo with a time of 1:49.782, and he led Red Bull Racing team-mate Max Verstappen by just under a tenth of a second.

Nico Hulkenberg had a good start to the session when he was briefly in the top five, but the German was unable to keep this position though and finished in eighth with a time of 1:50.088 ahead of the Williams Martini Racing of Valtteri Bottas. Bottas finished only 0.306s behind Hulkenberg with the first Haas F1 of Esteban Gutierrez behind him completing the top ten with a time of 1:50.583.

Just missing out on the top ten was the second Haas of Romain Grosjean who finished the session 0.316 seconds behind his team-mate, while Felipe Massa was unable to position himself in the top ten like Williams team-mate Bottas and finished the session in twelfth ahead of the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.

Carlos Sainz Jr finished the session in fourteenth for Scuderia Toro Rosso, while fifteenth was the second Sauber of Felipe Nasr with a time of 1:51.768, with the Brazilian finishing ahead of debutant Esteban Ocon.  Free Practice 1 marked the first session for Ocon as an official Formula 1 driver for Manor Racing after he was promoted to a race seat after the funding stopped for Rio Haryanto.

Daniil Kvyat finished the session in seventeenth for Toro Rosso ahead of the McLaren-Honda of Jenson Button, with the Briton setting a fastest lap time of 1:52.407 to finish ahead of the second Manor of Pascal Wehrlein. Wehrlein was unable to keep up with new team-mate Ocon, finishing the session one second behind.

Renault Sport Formula 1 team completed the order after Kevin Magnussen finished the session with a time of 1:53.053 to finish only 0.036s ahead of Jolyon Palmer.

Palmer encountered some difficulties in the session after he had to end his session early when he felt something very strange on the car. He limped back to the pits while the session continued, just before entering the pits, his problems mounted after experiencing no drive.  After entering the pits, the Briton did not return to the track for Renault.

Fernando Alonso had a difficult session as well after only completing three laps. The Spaniard failed to set a lap time after his session ended early when Honda discovered a water leak on a new upgraded power unit, leading to the Japanese manufacturer to swap the whole unit to investigate the problem.

A total of four teams ran the Halo during the first practice session. Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Sainz and Ricciardo all carried out the testing duties, with three drivers completing a single installation lap, but Rosberg keeping it for two runs.

The Halo was not the only thing teams were testing as several teams were testing prototype soft tyres for Pirelli, with the tyre manufacturer giving teams four sets to try across FP1 and FP2.

Belgian Grand Prix Free Practice 1

16Nico RosbergGERMercedes1:48.34827
244Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes1:49.07825
37Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari1:49.14724
411Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes1:49.27423
55Sebastian VettelGERFerrari1:49.76819
63Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Tag Heuer1:49.78224
733Max VerstappenNEDToro Rosso-Renault1:49.86524
827Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-Mercedes1:50.08821
977Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes1:50.39431
1021Esteban GutierrezMEXHaas-Ferrari1:50.58321
118Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas-Ferrari1:50.89918
1219Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes1:51.12228
139Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari1:51.12516
1455Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault1:51.42417
1512Felipe NasrBRZSauber-Ferrari1:51.76819
1631Esteban OconFRAManor-Mercedes1:51.78726
1726Daniil KvyatRUSRed Bull-Tag Heuer1:52.30819
1822Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda1:52.40718
1994Pascal WehrleinGERManor-Mercedes1:52.83723
2020Kevin MagnussenDNKRenault1:53.05320
2130Jolyon PalmerGBRRenault1:53.08920
2214Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda-3