Fernando Alonso on top at wet Spa

Fernando Alonso fought through the spray to be the fastest at Spa

Fernando Alonso fought through the spray to be the fastest at Spa

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso emerged on top after two weather affected Friday practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Spa turned on its traditional rainy weather throughout the opening day, with all but the final minutes of the afternoon’s running spent on wet or intermediate tyres.

The second session was also effected by a 10 minute red flag period called due to a report of several spectators being located in a restricted area.

Alonso led the field out for the final five minutes of running, and benefited from a clear track to set the fastest time of the day.

With rain expected to continue throughout the weekend, Alonso was happy to have gathered data on all four tyre options (wet, intermediate, prime slick and option slick).

“We know it will be changing conditions this weekend in terms of weather, so we try to set up the car for wet, for inter and dry conditions,” he said.

“You need to gamble in qualifying and the race, trying to make the right decision at the right moment because you can gain two or three seconds in one lap (by being on the correct tyres).

“We are not talking about two or three tenths. We are talking about a lot more – so it is important to be lucky in this type of weekend and for sure to be competitive.”

Adrian Sutil ended the session second for Force India, but later played down hopes that he can repeat Giancarlo Fisichella’s pole position and second place finish at Spa from last season.

While the Mercedes powered car still appears stronger on low downforce circuits, a lack of F-Duct is expected to hurt the German’s chances in the race.

“I think the podium is a bit too far away,” he admitted.

“If it comes I will be super happy but I don’t expect something like that because it’s a hard fight.

“To do the same result as last year is going to be a very difficult one, there are a lot of very strong teams out there.”

Third quickest was Lewis Hamilton, who later reported that his McLaren felt more suited to the flowing forest circuit than the Hungaroring, where he and McLaren lost the lead in both World Championships to Mark Webber and Red Bull.

Robert Kubica gave the Renault team’s new F-Duct system the thumbs up after setting the fourth fastest time, ahead of Filipe Massa in the second Ferrari, and the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel.

Jenson Button ended the day seventh, ahead of Pedro de la Rosa, Rubens Barrichello, and Kamui Kobayashi in tenth.

Michael Schumacher, who faces a 10 place grid penalty for his blocking move on Rubens Barrichello at the Hungarian Grand Prix, only managed the 12th fastest time, and will need a chaotic race on Sunday to score a strong result.

Championship leader Mark Webber finished the day down in 18th, but was unconcerned by the situation.

“Today was a bit of a messy day with the changing conditions, but it was actually pretty good for us,” he said.

“We got some good information to go through and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

“It’s hard to get a feel for what everyone’s doing with the changing weather.”

The two biggest incidents of the day belonged to the experienced pair of Tonio Liuzzi and Timo Glock, with the Force India requiring a new front wing after an off at Rivage, and the Virgin ending its day in the barriers at Turn 9.

For a further insight into the Belgian Grand Prix CLICK HERE for Speedcafe’s F1 Race Guide

Practice 1

Pos Driver Team Time/Retired Laps
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2:00.797 17
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 2:01.567 7
3 Robert Kubica Renault 2:02.081 14
4 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 2:02.450 11
5 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 2:02.646 14
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2:02.913 6
7 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 2:02.926 11
8 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 2:03.401 17
9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 2:03.424 7
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 2:03.489 9
11 Felipe Massa Ferrari 2:03.601 17
12 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 2:03.649 17
13 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 2:03.654 6
14 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari 2:03.851 17
15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 2:04.145 12
16 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 2:04.250 16
17 Vitaly Petrov Renault 2:04.690 15
18 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 2:05.680 6
19 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2:05.697 18
20 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 2:06.695 14
21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 2:07.189 15
22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 2:07.737 13
23 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2:07.955 15
24 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 2:10.507 18

Practice 2

Pos Driver Team Time/Retired Laps
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:49.032 25
2 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:49.157 17
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:49.248 14
4 Robert Kubica Renault 1:49.282 20
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:49.588 23
6 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:49.689 19
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:49.755 20
8 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:50.081 27
9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:50.128 22
10 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:50.200 24
11 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:50.251 24
12 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:50.341 23
13 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:50.382 21
14 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:50.682 25
15 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:50.831 20
16 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:51.520 17
17 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:51.523 25
18 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:51.636 19
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:53.480 15
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:53.639 21
21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:54.325 17
22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:55.751 24
23 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:56.039 21
24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2:03.179 3

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