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Page last updated at 13:48 GMT, Friday, 27 August 2010 14:48 UK

Belgian GP practice as it happened


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By Mark Orlovac

1446: And on that note, it's time for me to say goodbye. I very much doubt we'll be getting another finish like that to a practice session this season. Although, with the way 2010 is panning out, anything is possible. Thanks very much for your company today, I'll be back at 0930 BST tomorrow to take you through third practice and qualifying. Don't miss it. Take care.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide)
Steven Higgins via text: "Just a thought, but if Jenson Button signed for Ferrari, he'd be 'the red Button'. OK it was funny when I thought it."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt on Twitter: "Mark Webber says it was very difficult to figure out relative performance on a wet Friday in Spa. He seems much happier than yesterday."

Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "Jarno [Trulli] got blocked by Kubica who made a mistake so didn't improve on the option, more to come tomorrow."

1438: The cause of the problem was, allegedly, children climbing the fence. I didn't know my unruly kids were out in Belgium.

1433: So Alonso tops the times with a 1:49.032, then it is Sutil (1:49.157), Hamilton (1:49.248), Kubica (1:49.282), Massa (1:49.588), Vettel (1:49.689), Button (1:49.755). Schumacher was 12th (1:50.341) with Rosberg 13th (1:50.341) and Webber in 18th (1:51.636). Karun Chandhok says Ferrari are looking ominous while Anthony Davidson believes Force India are in with a shout this weekend. And apparently it has just started to rain again.

1431: After all that, the drivers only had enough time for one quick lap and that would have been badly affected by heavy traffic. What an odd way to end Friday practice.

1427: The track has gone green but the light at the end of the pit lane is staying red. This is a bit farcical now. Alonso is at the front of the queue, with a long line of cars behind him, and cannot go anywhere. Finally, after about a minute, the stewards wave a green flag and Alonso leads the cars out. Incredible.

1425: The session is about to resume. There is probably enough time for two flying laps. All the cars are queuing up in the pit lane. It's going to be very, very busy. Red Bull's Mark Webber tells his team: "They should have at least stopped the clock. We have waited all day for a dry track. Everyone is here. They could have extended it by 10 minutes, a bit of common sense."

1422: At the moment, race director Charlie Whiting is in a safety car cruising around the track. He is obviously looking for himself at the possible cause of the problem. He hasn't stopped out there though. Everyone is scratching their heads.

BBC analyst Anthony Davidson: "The red flag is frustrating for the teams as this is valuable track time for them. This is the best time. They are missing out on all that information about what the track is like when it is dry."

1419: We are getting helicopter telly shots of fans on the track side of the fence on the bank at Turn 9 but the boys in the commentary box say people are always there. Hmm.

Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "Spectators in a dangerous area, not seen that before."

1414: Red flag - the session has been stopped. Can't see what has happened. Race control say there may be spectators in a dangerous area. According to BBC F1 commentator David Croft, they could be on the inside of Rivage. Strange.

Hispania's Karun Chandhok on the Red Button: "I think there are five teams that could get on the podium this weekend."

1410: And as I type that, Alonso moves up to fourth with a 1:49.538.

1408: It's getting quite difficult to keep up with all the changes in the times. I know the sun is out boys but give me a chance. Sutil is top of the pops with a 1:49.157 then it is Hamilton (1:49.248), Kubica (1:149.282), Vettel (1:49.689), Button (1:49.755) and Massa (1:50.144).

Hispania's Karun Chandhok on the Red Button: "Kubica has gone 321kph through the speed trap, that's 5kph faster than anyone else I have seen this afternoon. That 'F-duct' (aerodynamic device) is working very well."

1402: Loads going on now. Kubica is second (1:49.873), Massa third (1:50.144), Schumacher fourth (1:50.517). BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos says the problem with Vettel's car was the right rear brake. Red Bull did not change it, though, they just gave it a clean.

1357: It's the last lap of Button's short stint on that option tyre and he posts a 1:49.755. Bang. Ferrari's Felipe Massa is now up to second (1:50.266) only for Kubica to take it with a 1:50.250. The Hulk is fourth (1:51.122).

1354: Mark Webber's Red Bull does not look very well as it comes out of La Source. It is going very slowly but then picks up speed during the lap. The Aussie asks his team if they are happy with the engine and they reply that they are. Button goes quickest with a 1:51.137 while Kobayashi improves to a 1:51.729. Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg is up to third (1:52.632).

1350: Alguersuari, on the prime tyre, is motoring. He posts a 1:53.910 only for Kobayashi to beat it with a 1:53.678. McLaren's Jenson Button leaves the garage with a set of the softer (option) slick tyres on. It will be interesting to see what he posts now.

1345: Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari is the first driver out on slick tyres. He is fastest in the second and third sectors and posts a 1:58.317 to move up to third. There is very little spray now but, apparently, rain is forecast in the next 10 minutes; which should be fun.

Hispania's Karun Chandhok on the Red Button: "When you come down a tyre, from wets to inters and inters to slicks, then that call comes from the team. As a driver it is very hard to judge whether the track is dry enough."

1339: It really is difficult at the moment for the teams to decide as to when and if they go to dry tyres. BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos says that a group of mechanics are looking at the back of Seb Vettel's car. "There is a problem with the rear right," she says. "I'm not sure what it is."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide)
Michael from Aberdeen via text: "I really hope Kubica and Sutil become team-mates. They are both consistent and have a lot of potential. What are the chances that Sutil will go to Renault?"

1331: Now Sutil is quickest with a 1:58.149. Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne reports: "Front inters graining massively." A slow motion shot of Sutil's front tyres prove that point, they are a complete mess. There are some really dry lines out there now and that is badly affecting the inters.

1328: While all that was going on, a few quick times were posted as the track continues to dry. Kubica leads the way (1:58.311), then it is Webber (1:58.490), Massa (1:58.591), Schumacher (1:59.219) and Petrov (1:59.233). Big moment for Schumacher coming through Eau Rouge, he has to come off the throttle so that he does not lose his car.

1324: Glock had quite an impact there. He smacks into the barriers sideways at Turn Nine after touching the white line coming out of Rivage. Liuzzi runs over the gravel and just touches the barriers at Rivage. Liuzzi gets out of the gravel and limps home, his team tell him: "Take it very easy on the way back."

1320:... and it's raining again. Timo Glock is off... and so is Liuzzi. Fun and games.

1317: Michael Schumacher locks up coming into the Bus Stop. Tricky time now for the teams as they decide whether to switch to inters. Lotus say they are going to. Hamilton is fastest with a 1:59.397, Sutil is second with a 1:59.488, Alonso third (1:59.490).

Get involved on 606
Kewee on 606: "Don't know why so many hope for a wet race. Rain means spray, which means an inability to follow close, which means no overtaking unless someone makes a significant mistake. The last thing I want to see is a start behind the safety car. I hope for a dry start and maybe a shower to add some interest but not enough to wreak the race."

1311: There is a still a little bit of spray coming off the back of the cars but there is still no rain. Fernando Alonso is the first driver out on the intermediate tyres. He posts a 2:00.481 to go fastest. Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi is second (2:02.692), Massa third (2:04.070).

pedromelim on Twitter: "Would be nice to see Button do a China or Australia this weekend at Spa."

1307: And we have some times early doors. Pedro de la Rosa guides his BMW Sauber around in 2:09.031 while Hispania's Sakon Yamamoto posts a 2:10.985.

Hispania's Karun Chandhok on the Red Button: "Mercedes have arguably the best engine in the pit-lane and this could be their chance to really try to drag themselves on the podium. They have had a difficult season but Nico Rosberg is driving really well and he could be a surprise here with that Mercedes power."

1300: And we are off. Sebastien Buemi and Michael Schumacher are the first drivers out. If you could do me favour and refresh this page, UK viewers should then get the practice stream in the proper place at the top of this page.

aka_robyn on Twitter: "Currently suffering through the end of a monster truck rally on SpeedTV here in the US, waiting for F1 practice to start. Sigh."

1255: BBC F1 commentator David Croft reports that it has STOPPED RAINING. Which is nice. It is humid though, with humidity rated at 88%. The temperature is 21C and there are some dark clouds in the distance. We'll be off soon.

1251: We've got 90 minutes of FP2 starting at 1300 BST with coverage at the top of this page and on the Red Button beginning at 1255 BST. Got some pictures now of some very hardy souls taking shelter with a variety of waterproof coverings. There are four blokes underneath some tarpaulin which is held up, seemingly, by some scaffolding. That is what I call being prepared.

Get involved on 606
Tudio on 606: "If race day is like today the first time coming through Eau Rouge will be extremely exciting. Imagine F1 cars side by side there in the wet."

1243: Remember that you are cordially invited to get involved with this here commentary - predictions for this weekend, where you are watching it, etc. You may even want to admit to how many Neighbours shows you've suffered, sorry, watched. Use 606, Twitter or text on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide) as I'll try to put up as many messages as I can. If you text, be a love and put FORMULA 1 before the message for me. Thank you.

1239: We've now got telly pictures and it does not seem to be raining. The sky is still grey although I think I may have spotted a tiny bit of blue. Can't be sure though, I might have imagined it.

1235: Back in the real world, here's some weather chat for you. Apparently there was more rain during the interval and, according to Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne, the GP2 session was red flagged. FP1 was certainly a damp affair for the F1 boys this morning, with Fernando Alonso posting the fastest time of 2:00.797. Lewis Hamilton was second for McLaren with Robert Kubica's Renault and the Red Bull of Seb Vettel making up the top four.

1230: Welcome back. That went quickly didn't it? Hope you used your break productively. I spent most of mine watching England lose a host of wickets in the cricket as well as trying to guess how many of the 6000 Neighbours episodes I've actually watched. I blame my total on some wasted years at University in the 1990s.

1042: Right, it's time for me to sign off. During the break I'll probably be throwing this very slow computer out of a nearby window! Hopefully the updates will be a bit quicker this afternoon. While you are waiting for the second session, have a look at the report and the results from FP1. I'll be back after a biscuit, or five, at 1230 BST to take you through FP2. Lovely.

peter_demetris on Twitter: "Can you please describe the smell of the damp Ardennes Forest to those of not lucky enough to be at Spa?"
Unfortunately I can't as I'm stuck here in Shepherd's Bush, I could try to convey the smell in this office but I wouldn't want to put you off your lunch!

1031: That's the end of a very soggy first practice. Alonso is quickest with Hamilton in second while Robert Kubica seems to be feeling the benefit of that 'F-duct' aerodynamic device and is third after a 2:02.081. Vettel was fourth, Sutil was in fifth.

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "This is developing into a fascinating contest between Red Bull and Ferrari - that's maybe what we're going to see here this weekend. Ferrari now have almost the same levels of down-force as Red Bull."

1027: There are a few dry lines on the track, it's busy out there now - apart from Mercedes, obviously, who are taking an early lunch. Kubica is quickly up to speed and is fifth quickest with a 2:02.786, then Alonso improves on his fastest time to set a 2:00.797. Barrichello sets a 2:03.424 and is ninth.

1023: Apparently there is a bit of blue sky over the circuit - the track is still sodden though. Massa runs a little wide at the Pouhon left hander. His best is a 2:03.601 which sees him in 10th place.

Mercedes GP on Twitter: "We're done for the session... see you for P2!"

Williams driver Rubens Barrichello on his 300th grand prix: "It's amazing, at the end of the day it feels like yesterday I started - I tell you I remember everything about my first race! It's great to get to 300 and still be competitive. It was really nice to see all the drivers [at a special celebration to mark the occasion on Thursday]. We are all here to win, but we can get together to share a good time. It's such a nice time I am having with Williams. They're using me as I'd always wanted to be used, because I've always had a good feeling for a car, so when I'm not at the track I'm up and down between the factory and the wind tunnel giving them as much feedback as possible - hopefully I'll be able to give them the win they deserve."

klanger79 on Twitter: "Is it me, or is Christian Horner sounding more and more like Jack Dee as the season goes on?

1011: Renault boss Eric Boullier is quizzed about the 'F-duct' upgrade his team are introducing this weekend. "It is quite difficult with this rain," says the Frenchman. "But it is very promising and it is matching our expectations." Ted Kravitz says some of the teams are waiting to go out after that heavy shower as they want the track to drain a little.

1005: Schumacher breaks the silence as he takes to the track. Jaime Alguersuari soon joins him. There's still plenty of spray by the way.

0959: Red Bull boss Christian Horner was speaking to Lord Ted of Kravitz earlier on the controversy over whether there is bodywork on their cars that is flexing illegally. Here's what he had to say: "Plenty has been said about our car but the FIA are the regulators and all the cars have to comply with same rules. Our car has complied with the rules at every race so far and will comply here. We take all the talk about our car as a compliment, it shows the others don't know what we're up to. So far this year they've talked about our ride height, suspension, active ride height - this week it's the front wing, what next? It can only be the drivers after that. The next two races are very important to us. I think McLaren and Ferrari have won the last 11 races here, that's quite a lockout. They will be quick in the first and third sectors so we've got to do our damage in the middle sector and we're confident we can give them a run for their money this weekend. [Red Bull technical director] Adrian Newey seems pretty relaxed about it [the new load tests for Spa and Monza]. It will only affect us as much as any of the other teams."

0955: A few of the drivers are out of their cars talking to their technical teams. Some, like Felipe Massa, are waiting patiently in their cars. Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi is interviewed on our Red Button coverage and he reveals he has a gearbox problem and that it will be changed for second practice.

0951: It really is battering down in Belgium now. Holly Samos reports that Williams are changing the steering rack on Barrichello's car. The Brazilian has not yet posted a time. It is all quiet on the track at the moment as the teams wait for this shower to pass.

0947: Alonso goes quickest with a 2:01.223, Hamilton is second, Vettel third and Sutil fourth. Schumacher is out and about and there's a bolt of lightening as he approaches Eau Rouge. Very, very frightening.

Get involved on 606
IllPhil on 606: "I hope the McLarens have made up some of the gap. Ferrari could be right up there because they weren't too far behind but Red Bull are obviously still going to be the team to beat."

0939: Crikey it's dark out there. The clouds are black and menacing. There's a bit of movement on the leaderboard, Alonso sets a 2:02.450 only for Seb Vettel to post a 2:02.450.

0931: Sutil improves to a 2:02.646 while Hamilton moves up to second quickest with a 2:03.353. Felipe Massa, Vitaly Petrov, Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg and Barrichello are the five drivers yet to set a time.

VivaF1 on Twitter: "Expecting Red Bull to be quick this weekend but their weakness on the straights could leave them vulnerable in the race."

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "McLaren have done a lot of work on this rear blown diffuser as the drivers have said the balance of the car has not been the same since the upgrade went on. The handling changed fundamentally and there has been a lot of work to try to make the car more predictable to allow Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton to push harder."

0921: A few of the cars are sliding around which is hardly surprising given the conditions. Seb Vettel twitches coming into La Source while Michael Schumacher runs out of road at the Bus Stop Chicane. Times update - Adrian Sutil sets a 2:03.331, then it's the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari (2:04.309) and the BMW Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi (2:04.710).

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Spa: "No-nonsense Australian Mark Webber wasn't getting carried about by regaining the championship lead at the last race in Hungary. But would celebrating his 34th birthday in Spa today give him more to smile about? 'It goes quick huh?' Webber straight-batted back to the media throng. 'A few grey hairs too. Oh well.' Well, maybe a surprise present from his team-mate Sebastian Vettel will cheer him up. 'I have brought nothing with me,' confessed Vettel. 'I don't know. I think they have these free shampoos and this kind of stuff in the hotel, a last-minute present.' I have a feeling that getting back in the car and pressing on with his title push will be enough of a birthday present for Webber this weekend."

BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos: "Most of the teams have come to Spa with upgrades, Force India being one of them and Vitantonio Liuzzi will test their new blown diffuser this morning but Adrian Sutil will not. Both drivers will test it this afternoon, though, and the team hope to run it for race. Williams, meanwhile, have a new front and rear wing, plus some mechanical changes. Renault have a huge upgrade, it is the first time the 'F-duct' has featured."

0913: And we have a time - it's a 2:06.752 set by that lad Glock. That's it though.

BBC pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie: "I met up with Rubens Barrichello in the paddock in Spa to interview the Brazilian, who is celebrating his 300th grand prix race this weekend. Always honest, always emotional, the 38-year-old spoke openly about changes to Formula 1 over his 18-year career, the death of his mentor Ayrton Senna in 1994 and how he would not change anything in his career - not even playing second fiddle to Michael Schumacher for all those years at Ferrari. Last night many of the drivers on the grid gathered at the Williams motorhome for a champagne reception in Barrichello's honour, showing how widely respected he is. My interview with Barrichello will be shown during Sunday's race programme on BBC One."

0905: Most of the drivers have completed an installation lap but no times have been set as yet. The cars are firing out plenty of spray as there is lots of standing water out on the track. Chat in the BBC Red Button commentary box with David Croft and Anthony Davidson is focusing on the controversial front wing used by Red Bull and Ferrari. The FIA is planning to use heavier load tests on these parts in Spa while both teams insist that they comply with the regulations. This is bound to run and run.

uberjnthn on Twitter: "Hoping to see McLaren get back on form today, but expecting to see Red Bull stamp their dominance on this season."

0900 And we are off for 90 minutes of first practice. Glock is the first man to take to the track. It really is grim out there. How many spins are we going to get today?

0849: With seven races to go, this really is the home stretch and it is all to play for in the championship race. Mark Webber's victory last time out in Hungary puts him in the lead but the top five drivers are separated by only 20 points. Meanwhile, Virgin Racing's Timo Glock is told that a fresh band of rain is on the way.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Spa: "It wouldn't be a British Bank Holiday without rain and it wouldn't be Spa without, well, buckets of the wet stuff. It has been absolutely tipping down this morning and BBC HQ has at times been shaken by thunder and bathed in a dusky gloom. The F1 cars haven't been on track for 25 days and wet conditions could put a dampener on their return in first practice. The main protagonists were all eager to push on after their summer holidays. Mark Webber, who heads the title race by four points from Lewis Hamilton, said: 'I didn't really need a break. I missed the driving.' Workaholic Fernando Alonso, who is 20 points off Webber, spent some of his time off working with Ferrari's engineers on the simulators and says he really wants to get back on the track. Let's see how much running Spa's fickle skies allow this morning."

0840: With this being a pretty crucial weekend in the championship race, I'm going to need all of your chat as to who you think will come out on top on Sunday. Maybe you'd like to tell me if you saw an F1 driver on your holidays. Unfortunately I had no such luck on the Lyme Regis campsite we visited, the closest was some bloke with a passing resemblance to Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug. Anyway, get involved on 606, Twitter or text using 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide) with FORMULA 1 before your message. Nice.

Force India on Twitter: "A massive clap of thunder a minute ago and can hear rain beating down on the motorhome roof. Where are we again, Malaysia? Feels like it."

0832: And a very good morning to you. Hope you had a good August. First bit of news from the track - it's absolutely bucketing it down. The telly pictures we are getting are basically showing varying shades of grey. According to Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne, the Formula BMW practice session was red flagged earlier because of the rain and the track conditions.

0830: The summer break is over, F1's great and good have bought their new lunchboxes, stationary sets and erasers that supposedly smell of cola; and we are all set for what should be a compelling weekend in the Ardennes Forest. Ready?

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Live Leaderboard


After 60 of 61 laps
Position Driver Team

Race stopped at 60 laps

1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
2 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
5 Brazil F Massa Williams
6 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
7 Mexico S Perez Force India
8 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
10 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
11 Finland V Bottas Williams
12 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus
13 France R Grosjean Lotus
14 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso
15 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham
16 France J Bianchi Marussia
17 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
18 Great Britain J Button (ret.) McLaren
19 Germany A Sutil (ret.) Sauber
20 Mexico E Gutierrez (ret.) Sauber
21 Germany N Rosberg (ret.) Mercedes
22 Japan K Kobayashi (ret.) Caterham

see also
Alonso sets Belgian practice pace
27 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Schumacher in Barrichello apology
26 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton plans damage limitation
26 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
McLaren take stock in title race
25 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Ferrari respond to Lauda comments
21 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton fired up for title fight
20 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton excited by title battle
04 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Webber defends Red Bull designs
03 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Schumacher 'almost disqualified'
03 Aug 10 |  Formula 1

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