Belgian GP, 2nd Free Practice Session: Alonso on top
The battle on track between the two top teams in Formula One continued this afternoon at Spa Francorchamps and as was the case last week at Monza, it was Fernando Alonso and McLaren Mercedes that led the way at the close of play on the opening day. Alonso recorded a best lap of 1’46”654s and was able to lap within a few tenths of this on a fairly regular basis this afternoon, while team-mate Lewis Hamilton did not seem so comfortable with his MP4-22.
Hamilton would close the gap by half a second late in the 90-minute session, reducing the deficit to just over a tenth of a second. Felipe Massa was back on track after his incident this morning in his F2007. The Ferrari driver was third fastest while Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen had to be content with fourth on this occasion, half a second off the ultimate pace.
Toyota seemed strong with Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher fifth and sixth fastest. Schumacher tried a complete new rear wing late in the session, presumably with a different downforce setting, to extract the best lap time from the TF107.
Giancarlo Fisichella was seventh fastest in the leading Renault, albeit it a second and a half off the ultimate pace, while Mark Webber was a solid eighth for the Red Bull Renault team. David Coulthard stopped mid-session with a suspected gearbox issue but still managed the 13th best time in his RB3. BMW Sauber did not look so strong today, but that is not unusual for the team who traditionally really show its pace when in qualifying. Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld were ninth and 11th fastest respectively.
Heikki Kovalainen was tenth best in the second Renault while Nico Rosberg was 12th for Williams Toyota. Alex Wurz was off the pace initially in the session, but would later make progress to 16th in the second Williams. Jenson Button was again the faster of the Honda runners in 14th with team-mate Rubens Barrichello half a second shy and 15th. Sakon Yamamoto did a good job in his Spyker Ferrari and set the 17th best time while team-mate Adrian Sutil, 20th, went off at Malmedy, damaging the front left of his Spyker.
Sebastian Vettel was 18th in his Toro Rosso with Tonio Liuzzi slowest in his STR2. In between Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson were 19th and 21st respectively as the Super Aguri Honda team struggle to gets to grips with this circuit.