Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets in Friday's practice in Belgium, edging ahead of Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso...
Lewis Hamilton: "It's great to be back in the car and it was feeling good out there today. The morning wasn't as strong, but it definitely improved in the afternoon. As always, we still have work to do tonight, but overall today was ok. It stayed dry throughout both sessions but the forecast is wet for tomorrow, so it was important to maximise track time as this may be our last dry running before the race. We've seen rain so often here in the past and that can really mix things up - particularly when it's wet in places and dry in others. Your visor is almost level with the ground, so it's not like looking from above where you can see the different patches. That makes it really hard to pick out the areas where you can find grip, but it's also a lot of fun. The only bad part of today was that I had my suit on when I did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It was pretty cold but I didn't feel it that much, so I think I'll need to do it again to make up for it!"
Nico Rosberg: "It's really great to be back at Spa. It's a fantastic track, the flow of the circuit is great and driving Eau Rouge is tricky this year with less downforce. You need to be really precise, and with worn tyres it was tough to take this unique corner flat out. It looks like we have the quickest car again, but it's a bit different here than at some other tracks. It seems that some of the other teams are closer and we need to work a bit on our speed down the straights. As normal, it will be a long night analysing everything that we learned today to really nail it tomorrow. The interesting challenge for this weekend is to find the right compromise between being quick over one lap and over a long distance in the race - especially if it's wet tomorrow, with the predictions currently saying we will have mixed conditions."
Fernando Alonso: "Compared to the other race weekends, the story is a bit different here, because Spa is a high speed circuit and, after a month off, getting back to racing at a fantastic track like this is a real pleasure. It was nice to be able to run in the dry today. The weather is always changeable here and in fact, the possibility of rain is forecast for tomorrow, therefore, as usual, we will ensure we are ready for whatever comes our way. At this track and at Monza, engine performance counts for a lot. We know there is no magic solution but we will nevertheless try to optimise everything. The car behaved as we expected from our simulations and that is definitely something positive."
Kimi Raikkonen: "A difficult day, complicated by a series of setbacks which cost us valuable track time. In the morning, I had a brake problem, but once it was sorted, we were able to get through our planned programme for the first session. The new components we brought for this race seem to be working, but only after we have cross-referenced all the data will we be able to work out what is the best package to use for the rest of the weekend. In the afternoon, an electrical problem complicated our work, preventing us from carrying out the race simulation. Tomorrow, we can expect a busy free practice session, in which we will do our best to prepare the car for qualifying and the race."
Felipe Massa: "It was a good Friday for us with no issues and we were able to continue learning about the car. We saw some tyre degradation so that will make tyre strategy crucial and it will be important to be on the right tyre at the right time in the race. Mercedes are still looking very strong and seem to have an advantage over everyone else, but we should have a good opportunity to fight for the podium and we need to make sure that we continue improving the car over the course of the weekend."
Valtteri Bottas: "We did a lot of set-up tests today with some good results and we will be aiming for a strong result in qualifying and the race because this is a track that is suited to our car. The car balance felt good from the beginning and we managed to improve it as the sessions went on, but there is still more performance I think we can unlock before Sunday. I didn't have a particularly good lap on the option tyres, but the time I set was still competitive so that is encouraging."
Jenson Button: "We found a decent balance here today, but, as always on a Grand Prix Friday, we're never completely happy. On the Option tyre, I'm very happy; on the Prime, Kevin is happier than I am, so we've got to work out the reasons for that this evening. In the first sector we're quickest, in the third sector we're a tenth or so off the pace, but in the middle sector we're almost a second down. So we'll have to work on getting the balance a bit better, and hopefully we can improve in the areas we're already strong in, too. Overall, I'd say our car feels reasonably nice to drive around here, but the circuit demands a low-downforce aero configuration, and that's given us some areas to work on, especially with the Prime tyre, on which we're struggling a little as I say. But there's definitely room for improvement, and hopefully we'll have a good weekend from here on in. Having said that, we don't really know what's going to happen with the weather; I think there's a good chance of rain tomorrow, which will change everything of course. Finally, I just want to say something about Eau Rouge. With our low-downforce set-up, it's, er, interesting. You've got oversteer at more than 300km/h, and I admit I let out a few screams inside my crash helmet through there on a couple of laps, especially on high fuel. But this is a track on which you always have moments - and, as ever at Spa, it's a great experience, and I'm really looking forward to the next two days."
Kevin Magnussen: "I really enjoyed today. Coming back to Spa is always a pleasure, because it's such a fantastic racetrack. Our car feels pretty good here, and I was able to push it today. Even so, we can still improve it, or fine-tune it anyway. Personally, I hope it'll be dry tomorrow, because that'll give us developmental continuity - and anyway it's always more fun driving at Spa on dry asphalt. Oh, and by the way, Eau Rouge is still flat, even on high fuel. So, in summary, I reckon we're looking okay, and I'm pretty happy with what we've achieved so far."
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