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Practice One - Schumacher leads rain-hit Spa session 26 Aug 2011

Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 26 August 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 26 August 2011 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) HRT Formula 1 Team HRT F111.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 26 August 2011 Vettel takes to the track in the wet Senna spins in the wet during his first Spa practice session for Renault

Michael Schumacher celebrated the 20th anniversary of his Formula One debut by wearing a special gold-plated helmet and by dominating the first practice session at Spa on Friday morning, with team mate Nico Rosberg backing him up less than half a second behind.

But… the two Mercedes drivers were the only ones to venture out at the start of the 90-minute session, while the track was dry. They lapped in 1m 54.355s and 1m 54.829s respectively. Then, surprise, surprise, it rained.

For a while it was torrential, then the sun came out and gradually the track began to dry again. But not before Bruno Senna, talking over Nick Heidfeld’s ride at Renault, and Force India’s Paul di Resta spun exiting Turn Nine and hit the tyre wall in separate accidents. The Scot’s incident came late in the session, momentarily bringing out the red flag and giving the track more time to dry out.

As the session resumed with a few minutes left, the times started tumbling again. McLaren’s Jenson Button had been ‘fastest’ on the wet track with 2m 09.682s before Di Resta’s spin, but when running resumed he cut down to 2m 02.740s to take third overall behind the Mercedes.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was fourth on 2m 03.752s, then came McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, whose 2m 04.301s had been the initial post-di Resta pacesetter, and Adrian Sutil who was up there all morning with Force India before ending the session with 2m 04.663s.

Felipe Massa was seventh for Ferrari on 2m 04.728s. Rubens Barrichello was an encouraging eighth for Williams on 2m 05.391s, then came Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari on 2m 06.583s and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi on 2m 06.886s. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso recorded 2m 07.055s and Sauber’s Sergio Perez 2m 07.481s, before Lotus’s Jarno Trulli headed Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi and Williams’ Pastor Maldonado on 2m 08.233s, 2m 08.239s and 2m 08.918s respectively.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber, an early wet-road pacesetter, ended up 16th on 2m 09.792s after failing to get a good lap on the drying track, then came a group comprising Virgin’s Timo Glock, HRT’s Tonio Liuzzi and Virgin’s Jerome D’Ambrosio on 2m 12.278s, 2m 12.389s and 2m 12.772s respectively.

Di Resta lapped his Force India in 2m 13.058s before his off, which left him 20th from Karun Chandhok on 2m 13.090s, the Indian standing in at Lotus for Heikki Kovalainen. Vitaly Petrov was 22nd on 2m 13.601s in the lead Renault from team mate Senna, whose 2m 14.340s before his spin had been fractionally faster than the Russian’s best time to that point. At the back, Daniel Ricciardo was 24th for HRT on 2m 14.933s.

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