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Friday analysis - mixed weather leaves teams with work to do 05 Sep 2008

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 5 September 2008 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault with Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault behind him.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 5 September 2008 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB4 crashes during practice.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 5 September 2008 Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 5 September 2008 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 crashes during practice.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 5 September 2008

The first day of practice for the Belgian Grand Prix took place in the kind of varied conditions so typical of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. In the morning it was dry and it was the Ferraris of Felipe Massa that led the way. However, a little light rain caused some excitement in the afternoon and put the emphasis more firmly on the driver, with Renault’s Fernando Alonso setting the pace. The lack of consistency means most teams will now have to complete their Saturday morning practice set-ups based on their pre-event simulations.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 47.284s, P1/1m 48.504s, P2
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 47.623s, P2/ 1m 49.328s, P5

A strong day for Massa, who was always at the top, or very close to the top, of the timesheets. Not so good for Raikkonen, who broke not just the rear wing but also the floor of his F2008 when he spun at Rivage in the afternoon. Thus he was not able to go out again before the session ended.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 47.878s, P3/1m 48.805s, P4
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 47.932s, P4/1m 48.740s, P3

Hamilton felt he was chasing a moving target all day, which made life difficult, while Kovalainen said there wasn’t a lot you could learn about set-up in the mixed conditions but was quite happy to be third fastest in the afternoon.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 48.104s, P5/1m 48.454s, P1
Nelson Piquet, 1m 49.068s, P10/1m 51.334s, P19

Alonso said he made good progress with the R28’s set-up but did not complete his programme because of the mixed track conditions, a familiar lament. Piquet said he didn’t feel perfectly comfortable in his car, and it showed in the lap times.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 48.428s, P6/1m 51.640s, P20
David Coulthard, 1m 49.849s, P15/1m 49.922s, P12

It was a mixed day for Red Bull, with Webber doing well in the morning but not in the afternoon when he made a mistake on his out lap on cool tyres. Coulthard also had some adventures in the afternoon.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 48.557s, P7/1m 49.948s, P13
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 48.958s, P8/1m 49.427s, P7

Vettel wasn’t totally happy with his Toro Rosso in the morning but felt changes had made it much better in the afternoon. Bourdais liked his morning performance, when the balance was reasonable, and felt overall he was in good shape despite an off in the afternoon.

Toyota
Timo Glock, 1m 48.997s, P9/1m 50.281s, P14
Jarno Trulli, 1m 49.625s, P14/1m 49.715s, P9

Glock felt there was more work to be done on set-up, despite making a small step forward on his final run of the day, while Trulli lost time in the morning with an electrical problem and felt he learned little during the rest of the day.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 49.139s, P11/1m 49.875s, P11
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 49.185s, P12/1m 49.725s, P10

Kubica’s sole real problem of the day was when the engine stalled when he tried to do a practice start, but like everyone else his programme was disrupted by the weather. The same went for Heidfeld, who was nevertheless happy to be a lot closer to his team mate.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, 1m 49.611s, P13/1m 49.405s, P6
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 50.125s, P18/1m 50.364s, P15

A poor morning for Rosberg, and a better afternoon, which went counter to most other teams’ feelings. Set-up changes during the lunch break made the German’s FW30 much more responsive, as his afternoon lap times demonstrated. He felt they now have a clear direction for the final practice session. Nakajima didn’t have much to be happy about, as he struggled to get a good feeling from his car.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 49.986s, P16/1m 50.740s, P16
Adrian Sutil, 1m 50.117s, P17/1m 49.585s, P8

Fisichella said he had a normal day until his shunt in the afternoon. Sutil lost time in the morning with a broken damper, but was quick in the afternoon as he used several sets of tyres.

Honda
Jenson Button, 1m 50.464, P19/1m 50.925s, P17
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 50.905s, P20/1m 51.238s, P18

Spa does not suit the Hondas, as the positions of Button and Barrichello showed. Neither could generate heat in their Bridgestones, and Button complained of understeer. Both are praying for rain.