Saturday, August 27, 2011

Schumacher Splashes, Webber Wails in Belgian GP Friday Practices

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP

After nearly a month off after completing the first 11 grand prix races of 2011, the Formula 1 tour convenes on the fast and lauded Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The Belgian Grand Prix ignites the powerful Formula 1 engines with Formula 1 vehicles which have undergone what was likely a sizable examination through the season's summer break.

A 19-turn course reaching 7.001 kilometers in length, the Belgium motorsport track presents technical as well as high-speed corners. Along the Kemmel Straight, speeds are expected to reach over 330 kilometers per hour (205 miles per hour). Providing difficult conditions for the Formula 1 drivers and teams to shake off their cobwebs, the first competitive sessions at Spa were performed in damp weather. Requiring valuable track time ahead of Saturday's qualifying and the Belgium Grand Prix on Sunday, Formula 1 teams were belted into their race machines setting the first track timed benchmarks of the weekend.

Provided with an initial practice session that was 90 minutes in length, the Mercedes GP cars were the only cars to trek out on the Spa-Francorchamp circuit early in the session. Able to run Pirelli stick tires on the then-dry Belgium surface, the Silver Arrows delivered two times in the 1 minute, 54 second bracket. Leading the Mercedes GP cars was the 7-time champion Michael Schumacher who was almost half a second faster than teammate Nico Rosberg on track. The lucky ones in the first practice sessions, rains quickly drenched the race track effectively protecting their top times against any challenges from Red Bull or McLaren race cars.

As rains pounded the Belgian Grand Prix course, the best efforts outside of the Mercedes GP duo was posted by the McLaren-Mercedes of Hungarian Grand Prix victor Jenson Button. Button was almost 8 seconds slower than the second fastest Mercedes GP car of Rosberg. More than 9 seconds under the pace of Michael Schumacher's dry track fastest time, the Red Bull-Renault of driver championship leader Sebastian Vettel and the McLaren-Mercedes of 2008 Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton rounded out the top-5 in the first practice.

Having been for the both part outclassed this season in the team by the younger Nico Rosberg, some speculation during the summer break eluded to Schumacher making an early departure from the Mercedes GP team. A little over a week ago, Michael Schumacher stated he will stay with Mercedes GP through the Formula 1 2012 season. This 2011 event at the Spa-Francorchamps circuits marks a 20-year anniversary since the famous German driver piloted his first Formula 1 car. Piloting a Jordon, Schumacher's career debut in Formula 1 started unimpressively with a retirement due to a faulty clutch. For the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher is commemorating his first grand prix with a golden helmet.

For the second practice session in the afternoon, the Spa-Francorchamps surface conditions have improved enough where slick tires could once again for mounted to race cars. In this dryer afternoon practice, the top-16 fastest drivers at the conclusion of the 90-minute session outran Schumacher and his Mercedes GP car. At the top of the charts after Friday's second practice was the Red Bull Racing team. Piloted by Mark Webber to a 1 minute, 50.321 second fast time, the Renault-powered race car fended off the challenge of Fernando Alonso's Ferrari by 0.14 of a second. Most surprising in the second practice was the separation between the two Red Bull-Renaults on the time sheet. With Mark Webber delivering the team to their familiar position at the highest plateau of the practice charts, the car of reigning Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel could only muster a 10th fastest time.

The McLaren-Mercedes cars captured 3rd and 4th fastest times in the second practice despite that fact the pairing of Jenson Button as well as Lewis Hamilton each spent only 9 laps on track. Felipe Massa collected the 5th quickest time in the afternoon session ahead of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes GP car. The Sauber-Ferrari driven by Sergio Perez posted a 7th fastest laps ahead of the Force India-Mercedes drivers who captured 8th and 9th top times.

A third practice session ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix starts at 11 am local time (5 am Eastern time) followed by Formula 1 qualifying running at 2 pm (8 am Eastern time).

No comments:

Post a Comment