Nico Rosberg bounced back from an early problem to finish as the fastest driver in first practice for the Belgian Grand Prix on Friday morning.
A loss of drive on his Mercedes W06 car forced Rosberg to return to the pits early on so that his team could look into the issue. When he returned to the track, the German driver stamped his authority on the session by topping the timesheets.
A best lap of 1:51.082 was enough to give Rosberg P1 by two-tenths of a second ahead of Mercedes teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton had led the way early on, but was unable to match Rosberg’s time during the faster runs later in the session, forcing him to settle for second place.
2014 winner Daniel Ricciardo showed signs of a resurgence at Red Bull ahead of the race weekend by finishing third overall ahead of Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Daniil Kvyat underpinned Red Bull’s good pace by finishing sixth.
Max Verstappen made a good impression in his first outing at his ‘home’ grand prix weekend by finishing FP1 in seventh place. The 17-year-old is half-Belgian and lives in Belgium, meaning that he is likely to enjoy a great amount of support this weekend.
In the sister Toro Rosso, Carlos Sainz Jr. finished two-tenths of a second behind his teammate in eighth. Sergio Perez finished ninth ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Lotus drviver Pastor Maldonado, who ended up 11th despite crashing his car halfway through the session.
Coming out of Malmedy, Maldonado ran wide and lost control of his car, causing it to slide across the track and into the barrier on the right hand side. The crash was hefty enough to warrant a red flag period, and although Maldonado walked away unharmed, the same could not be said of his car.
Second practice at Spa takes place later today, with the session available live on NBCSN and Live Extra at 8am ET.