Rosberg edges Hamilton in opening practice in Belgium

Rosberg edges Hamilton in opening practice in Belgium

Nico Rosberg topped opening practice ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix for Mercedes.

Rosberg, the current championship leader, shot to the top of the time sheets at the fifty minute mark with a lap of 1:51.577, displacing his Mercedes team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton by a mere nine hundredths of a second. Despite a bizarre moment when he slowed at Eau Rouge, Fernando Alonso rounded out the top three for Ferrari, the Spaniard two tenths shy of the Mercedes pair.

It was an encouraging morning for McLaren, with Jenson Button and his rookie team-mate Kevin Magnussen fourth and seventh, split by Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and Force India’s Sergio Perez.

The Mexican’s team-mate Nico Hulkenberg was eight, while Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top ten.

Four time world champion Sebastian Vettel ended the morning session 11th in the second of the Red Bull cars, while Daniil Kvyat was 12th, three seconds adrift of the German in the Toro Rosso, and just three thousandths quicker than Lotus’ Romain Grosjean.

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Adrian Sutil was 14th for Sauber, ahead of Felipe Massa’s Williams and Jean-Eric Vergne in the second Toro Rosso.

Giedo van der Garde, standing in for Esteban Gutierrez at Sauber during opening practice was 17th, while Alexander Rossi, who had been expected to complete the weekend with Marussia, was 20th in what will be his only session with the team in Spa following Max Chilton’s reinstatement to the seat on Friday morning.

Three time Le Mans winner and Caterham stand-in Andre Lotterer, who last tasted F1 machinery in 2002, ended his maiden session in the sport 21st fastest, a tenth up on his temporary team-mate Marcus Ericsson, who suffered a spin at La Source.

Free Practice One – Classification

1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:51.577 – 25 Laps

2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:51.674  +0.097 – 24 Laps

3. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:51.805  +0.228 – 16 Laps

4. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:52.404  +0.827 – 21 Laps

5. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:52.818  +1.241 – 17 Laps

6. Sergio Perez – Force India-Mercedes – 1:52.903  +1.326 – 24 Laps

7. Kevin Magnussen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:52.922  +1.345 – 23 Laps

8. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – 1:52.937  +1.360 – 22 Laps

9. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull-Renault – 1:52.972  +1.395 – 19 Laps

10. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Mercedes – 1:53.172  +1.595 – 20 Laps

11. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:53.369  +1.792 – 11 Laps

12. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:53.594  +2.017 – 21 Laps

13. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:53.597  +2.020 – 20 Laps

14. Adrian Sutil – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:53.703  +2.126 – 14 Laps

15. Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes – 1:53.968  +2.391 – 20 Laps

16. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:54.189  +2.612 – 20 Laps

17. Giedo van der Garde – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:54.335  +2.758 – 16 Laps

18. Pastor Maldonado – Lotus-Renault – 1:55.336  +3.759 – 21 Laps

19. Jules Bianchi – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:55.782  +4.205 – 19 Laps

20. Alexander Rossi – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:57.232  +5.655 – 20 Laps

21. Andre Lotterer – Caterham-Renault – 1:57.886  +6.309 – 24 Laps

22. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham-Renault – 1:57.977  +6.400 – 24 Laps

Image courtesy of Octane Photographic

Dan Paddock

Dan Paddock

Dan Paddock is an FIA accredited freelance motorsport and Formula 1 journalist and the recently appointed Grand Prix Editor of Richland F1. Dan joined the site in July of last year as a Staff Writer, fresh off the back of completing a master’s degree in journalism. He has since gone on to represent Richland F1 at the 2014 British Grand Prix, his debut in the Formula 1 paddock. Aside from Richland F1, Dan also writes for Rumble Strip News, as well as maintaing his own modest blog.