Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of FP1 for the Belgian Grand Prix while running the Halo cockpit protection device during the opening practice session.
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The German was one of four drivers to test the Halo on Friday morning at Spa-Francorchamps as part of analysis ahead of its planned introduction in 2018. While Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz all completed just one installation lap using the device, Rosberg stayed out for two runs with the Halo on, pushing flat out on supersoft tyres on the second run.
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During that time, Rosberg went fastest and ended the session over 0.7s clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton on a 1:48.348, with Mercedes the only team to set their best times on the supersoft. Hamilton took a new turbocharger and MGU-H ahead of the opening session, leaving him with a 15-place grid penalty this weekend.
Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest for Ferrari, just 0.069s slower than Hamilton despite using the soft tyre, while Sergio Perez was a further 0.127s back in fourth place on the soft tyre. Sebastian Vettel ended the session fifth ahead of the two Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, while Hulkenberg in seventh was the only other driver within two seconds of Rosberg.
Valtteri Bottas in eighth used the medium tyre, with the Haas of Esteban Gutierrez rounding out the top ten ahead of team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Pirelli also supplied prototype tyres designed to be more robust during contact with kerbs and other objects, with Sainz, Felipe Nasr, Pascal Wehrlein and Kevin Magnussen setting their best times on the prototypes.
Jenson Button was 18th quickest using the upgraded Honda power unit while team-mate Fernando Alonso hit trouble, with McLaren having to change the Spaniard’s power unit after discovering a water leak. The problem ruled Alonso out of the session after just three laps, limiting the data the team gained with the new upgrades.
Debutant Esteban Ocon impressed for Manor as he set the 16th fastest time on the soft tyre, finishing a second ahead of team-mate Wehrlein. Ocon was also quicker than Daniil Kvyat and Button in his first session for Manor.
There was one error from Ocon early in the session as the Frenchman overshot his pit box and hit a cone marking where to stop. Manor asked if he did not see his pit crew, to which he replied that he simply braked too late when returning to the pits.
AS IT HAPPENED: Belgian Grand Prix – FP1
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