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Belgian GP: Kobayashi fastest for Sauber at soggy Spa-Francorchamps


By Berthold Bouman

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi was fastest this morning at the first free practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. The Japanese driver recorded a time of 2m11.389s after having completed 20 laps. Kobayashi was the first to record a timed lap in difficult conditions and he gradually improved his time this morning to ultimately take first place. His team mate Sergio Perez was sixth this morning

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber

Williams driver Pastor Maldonado was second fastest after the chequered flag was waved, while Daniel Ricciardo was third for Toro Rosso as he made good use of the cold and wet conditions. So did his team colleague Jean-Eric Vergne who was fourth. Most drivers stayed in the garage at the start of the session, but after an hour they finally emerged from the pit lane to score a timed lap.

Mark Webber was the fastest Red Bull Racing driver and took fifth place, while current World Champion Sebastian Vettel was ninth, 3.471s slower than Kobayashi. Nico Rosberg was seventh, and Valtteri Bottas, who took over the wheel from Bruno Senna, was eighth in the second Williams.

Michael Schumacher who will celebrate his 300th Grand Prix at Spa, was tenth with a time of 2m15.402 after he completed 13 laps. The German will wear a specially designed platinum helmet this weekend to mark the occasion, and was also one of the first to check out the wet circuit this morning.

The famous Eau Rouge corner already claimed a few victims as many drivers, including Schumacher, ran very wide and could barely keep their car on track. Further down the order we find Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg in 11th and 13th spot for Force India, while Timo Glock (Marussia) and Vitaly Petrov (Caterham) surprisingly took 12th and 14th place.

Lewis Hamilton didn’t really fancy the rain and stayed in the McLaren garage until the very last moment, he scored 15th position after completing only five laps. His team colleague Jenson Button was 16th, Charles Pic (Marussia) 17th, Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham) 18th, and HRT drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Dani Clos 19th and 20th.

Both Lotus drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean were perhaps afraid to damage their new double DRS system and didn’t even bother to put in a representative time.

Fernando Alonso said he wanted rain this weekend, got it today but also didn’t score a representative time, while Felipe Massa didn’t bother at all this morning, and finished the first practice session in 24th place, as he had stopped at the chicane with a smoking engine and did not even complete a timed lap.

Rain is also expected for the second free practice session this afternoon at the Belgian Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

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