Rosberg on top as Spa weekend begins
22 August 2014 – Nico Rosberg set the standard as the Formula 1 field returned to action during Friday morning's first practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. The Mercedes driver edged out team-mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton by 0.097s, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso the best of the rest.
Continuing their fierce battle from the opening half of the season, the Silver Arrows duo traded fastest times throughout the session.
But it was ultimately Rosberg who came out on top with a best effort of 1:51.577, experiencing a smoother run through the final chicane.
Buoyed by its Hungaroring showing, Ferrari enjoyed a positive start to the weekend, with the aforementioned Alonso and team-mate Kimi Räikkönen sandwiching the McLaren of Jenson Button in third and fifth respectively.
All three drivers suffered issues; Alonso stopped briefly at the side of Eau Rouge, Räikkönen spun coming out of the La Source hairpin before his ERS overheated and Button survived a scare when his DRS jammed open.
Sergio Pérez took sixth, ahead of Kevin Magnussen's McLaren and Force India team-mate Nico Hülkenberg.
Daniel Ricciardo ensured that Red Bull featured inside a top 10 completed by Williams driver Valtteri Bottas.
Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who first reported gearbox problems before his session came to a premature end as a result of a power unit problem, wound up 11th, while Felipe Massa finished back in 15th.
The pair were split by Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat, Lotus driver Romain Grosjean and Sauber's Adrian Sutil.
Sauber reserve Giedo van der Garde placed 17th on his sixth practice appearance of 2014, six tenths adrift of Sutil after power issues. Outgoing Toro Rosso driver Jean-Éric Vergne put his car just ahead of the Dutchman.
Lotus' Pastor Maldonado was the last of the midfield runners, more than a second down on van der Garde.
At the back, Jules Bianchi comfortably outpaced fellow Marussia driver Alexander Rossi, who will no longer be making his F1 debut at Spa, while newcomer André Lotterer got the better of Marcus Ericsson at Caterham.
Friday's second practice session at Spa gets underway at 14:00 local time (GMT +2)