Fernando Alonso: Fastest In Friday's Belgian Grand Prix Practice

Alistair HunterContributor IAugust 27, 2010

SPA FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIUM - AUGUST 27:  Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari drives during practice for the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on August 27, 2010 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso set the fastest lap in two rain affected Friday practice sessions. He set the time in the second practice session as he was lucky to be the first driver out of the pits after a red flag, leaving him with no traffic to hold him up on his flying lap.

First Practice

After 14 minutes of the first session, Timo Glock set the first fastest lap with a 2:06.752 in the rain. However, after the first third of the session, many drivers ventured onto the track, and Pedro de la Rosa beat his time by nine-tenths of a second. Sutil then went faster with 25 minutes later with a 2:05.117 on the extreme wet tires, before Alugersuari beat the time, but Sutil soon got the top spot back. Alonso went fastest ten minutes later with a 2:02.582.

At the halfway point of the first session, and despite Vettel going faster, Alonso once again claimed the top spot. Despite very rainy conditions and some lightning, many drivers stayed out to test upgrades for their cars, but the drivers who didn't have to test stayed in the pits, showing how the teams treat many of these sessions as testing sessions because there is no in-season testing. With 36 minutes to go, however, all the drivers retreated inside to avoid the heavy rain.

Michael Schumacher was the first driver to come back onto the track with 22 minutes to go in the session, despite the rivers of water in some areas of the track, but he ventured back into the pits without setting a lap time. Toro Rosso driver Alguersuari went out and set a lap 4.5 seconds off the pace, complaining on his team radio that "there is too much water on the track."

Despite the sun coming out, many teams stayed in because of the water standing on the track, leaving only a small threat that anyone else would reach the top spot in practice as only the HRT of Yamamoto and Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen were out on track. The rain eased away for the last ten minutes, leaving the track to dry up for some drivers to set their fastest laps, but no one could beat Alonso's improved time of 2:00.797 in the first session.

Second Practice

Massa beat De La Rosa's initial time by five seconds to be on top of the leaderboard after eight minutes in the second session. He was joined by Alonso as the track dried out further, who then set the first time under two minutes with a 1:59.490.

The white lines were treacherous, as shown by Sebastien Buemi in the early part of the session, who lost control going into a corner but then regained control of the car. Lewis Hamilton then went faster just as it started raining, before yellow flags came out as Timo Glock and Vitantonio Liuzzi went off the track, but the latter managed to drive away with a damaged front wing, unlike Glock, who went into the wall as another victim of a slippery white line.

After the yellow flags went away, Massa went fastest once again, but then Renault driver Kubica went faster by 0.280. Due to the circuits length, in several places it was drying out but in other areas it was quite wet, which led to some mistakes around the track, but these were only punished with slightly slower lap times rather than crashes. Adrian Sutil went faster around the track after a third of the session, and it stayed that way until Jaime Alguersuari set the fastest time by over two seconds.

Alguersuari was the first driver to go out onto the track on slick tires and set the fastest time in the second and third sectors, and setting the third fastest time, before setting two consecutive fastest times, showing how dry the track was getting. The yellow flags came out again for Jarno Trulli, who went onto the grass at one corner. As more drivers went on the slick tires, Kamui Kobayashi set the fastest lap with a 1:53.678, which was just faster than Alguersuari, before trading places at the top for another lap.

Rubens Barrichello went off the track and Mark Webber seemed to have a problem with his engine as he was driving slowly, but the team found that it was fine and he went back up to full speed. Jenson Button then went very fast in his McLaren to go under one minute 50 seconds with a 1:49.755, 1.974 seconds ahead of nearest rival Kobayashi. The gap was narrowed by Kubica to 0.118 seconds, before Sutil went to the top, but Hamilton went almost half a second faster than the time of the Force India driver.

Renault's F-duct seemed to be working as Robert Kubica kept posting competitive times in his car, and he was the fastest driver through the speed trap, but his teammate was far adrift of the lead. Sutil set the fastest lap time once again, before a red flag came out with fifteen minutes left, with race control suggesting that there "may be spectators in a dangerous area," depriving the drivers of an important portion of time to practice driving in the dry conditions, as the red flag was only lifted with 4 minutes to go.

However, another minute was lost because of a problem with the lights at the bottom of the pit lane. This left all the drivers with one final flying lap, which was heavily affected by traffic, meaning only Alonso (who was the first out of the pit lane) managed to beat the top time with a 1:49.032.