Nico Rosberg topped the times in Friday practice for the Belgian Grand Prix despite suffering a spectacular tyre failure which ended his day prematurely.
The Mercedes driver proved to be the man to beat at the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit as he headed the field in both 90 minute practice sessions.
Rosberg’s 1:49.385s soft tyre effort eclipsed his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.302s, with Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo the best of the rest in third, four tenths further back.
Although comfortably quickest, Rosberg was lucky to escape a frightening tyre blowout with 25 minutes remaining in Practice 2.
His right rear tyre exploded coming through the high speed Blanchimont corner with the German lucky to avoid the barriers before coming to a halt on the track.
The incident red flagged the session with Rosberg unable to continue.
“We don’t know yet (what happened) it would make no sense to speculate,” said Rosberg.
“It was quite a shock I didn’t expect it.
“Unfortunately it was not down to my skill but luck that I stayed away from the wall.
“It was a bit of a dent to the confidence such an incident like today.”
It proved to be a strong day for Red Bull Racing with Daniil Kvyat backing up Ricciardo’s pace with the fourth fastest time, albeit a second adrift of Rosberg.
Fresh from signing a new contract with Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen was fifth fastest ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Romain Grosjean was seventh quickest although his Lotus came to a halt at the end of the session with a suspected electrical issue.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson endured a day of mixed fortunes with the Swede posting a time good enough for eighth, before a high speed crash at Pouhon brought out the red flags for a second time in Practice 2.
Team-mate Felipe Nasr and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top 10, while Williams struggled for pace with Valtteri Bottas 14th and Felipe Massa in 16th position.
The McLarens of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, running upgraded Honda power units, were 17th and 18th respectively.
Result: Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix Practice 2, Spa-Francorchamps
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1:50.136s||+0.751s||15|
|4||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1:50.399s||+1.014s||18|
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1:50.461s||+1.076s||21|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1:50.971s||+1.586s||21|
|12||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1:51.037s||+1.652s||24|
|13||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1:51.117s||+1.732s||25|
Result: Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix Practice 1, Spa-Francorchamps
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1:51.373s||+0.291s||18|
|6||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1:51.960s||+0.878s||18|
|7||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1:52.158s||+1.076s||27|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1:52.421s||+1.339s||26|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1:52.423s||+1.341s||20|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1:52.614s||+1.532s||20|