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F1 Belgium: Vettel and Webber dictate pace in Spa-Francorchamps free practice (+photos)

Red Bull Racing drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber took advantage of their RB9-Renault's speed around the longest track of the season, the famous Spa-Franchorchamps circuit, to clock the best laps in free practice, ahead of the 2013 Belgian Grand Prix.

It was actually Ferrari's Fernando Alonso who set the fastest time in the morning session, when the track was partially wet. The circuit is so long, it can rain in some areas and not in others.

Fernando Alonso, Spa-Francorchamps, Ferrari F138, F1
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F138 (Photo: WRi2)

Maximizing the conditions, Alonso turned a 1min55.198s, ahead of the two Force India drivers Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil.

McLaren's Sergio Pérez and Mercedes-AMG's Nico Rosberg completed the top 5.

2013 Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps, free pratice 1*
1 - Fernando Alonso (Ferrari F138) – 1’55”198 – 11 laps
2 - Paul Di Resta (Force India VJM06-Mercedes) - 1'55"224 – 10
3 - Adrian Sutil (Force India VJM06-Mercedes) - 1'55"373 - 11
4 - Sergio Perez (McLaren MP4/28-Mercedes) - 1'55"518 - 14
5 - Nico Rosberg (Mercedes W04) - 1'55"614 – 10
6 - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB9-Renault) - 1'55"636 – 14
7 - Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber C32-Ferrari) - 1'55"954 – 18
8 - Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber C32-Ferrari) - 1'56"110 - 11
9 - Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso STR8-Ferrari) - 1'56"770 – 14
10 - Valtteri Bottas (Williams FW35-Renault) - 1'56"858 - 18
11 - Felipe Massa (Ferrari F138) - 1'56"863 - 10
12 - Pastor Maldonado (Williams FW35-Renault) - 1'57"081 - 14
13 - Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso STR8-Ferrari) - 1'57"084 - 17
14 - Jenson Button (McLaren MP4/28-Mercedes) - 1'57"281 - 14
15 - Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes W04) - 1'57"358 – 10
16 – Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham CT03-Renault) - 1'57"821 - 16
17 - Giedo Van der Garde (Caterham CT03-Renault) - 1'57"887 - 16
18 – Max Chilton (Marussia MR02-Cosworth) - 1'58"600 - 14
19 - Mark Webber (Red Bull RB9-Renault) - 1'58"929 – 12
20 – Jules Bianchi (Marussia MR02-Cosworth) - 1'59"441 - 12
21 - Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus E21-Renault) - 1'59"441 - 11
22 - Romain Grosjean (Lotus E21-Renault) - 2'03"176 – 15
*Unofficial timing

The track had dried up completely when the cars returned for the afternoon session, which allowed the teams to start comparing the two rubbers available to them: Pirelli's medium and hard compounds.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull RB9
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull RB9 (Photo: WRi2)

Red Bull struck early, first with Webber. But Vettel quickly set the bar even higher at 1min49.331s, recording also the fastest top speed along the way.

The team also ran two different types or rear wing on each car to find out which of the low or high downforce solution was better.

Later during the session, however, the reigning champion picked up a puncture while on a long run in race trim. He elected not to go back out afterwards. Meanwhile, Webber was finding out there was 1.8s gap between the two types of tires.

Giedo van der Garde, Caterham CT03
Giedo van der Garde, Caterham CT03 (Photo: WRi2)

Peu après, Giedo van der Garde perdait le contrôle du train arrière de sa Caterham dans un virage rapide et a percuté le muret de pneus, sans se faire mal toutefois.

Vettel termine donc la séance avec le meilleur temps devant Webber et Romain Grosjean sur Lotus. L’écurie Lotus s’est rendu compte que sa E21 était plus rapide sans son système passif DRS.

Felipe Massa s’est classé 4e dans sa Ferrari devant Jean-Éric Vergne à bord d’une Toro Rosso, Kimi Räikkönen sur l’autre Lotus, Alonso, Sergio Pérez dans la première McLaren, Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) et Di Resta.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, F1, Spa-Francorchamps
Sebastian Vettel (Photo: WRi2)

2013 Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps, free pratice 2*
1 - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB9-Renault) - 1'49"331 – 22 tours
2 - Mark Webber (Red Bull RB9-Renault) - 1'49"390 – 34
3 - Romain Grosjean (Lotus E21-Renault) - 1'50"149 - 34
4 - Felipe Massa (Ferrari F138) - 1'50"164 - 27
5 - Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso STR8-Ferrari) - 1'50"253 - 28
6 - Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus E21-Renault) - 1'50"318 - 33
7 - Fernando Alonso (Ferrari F138) – 1’50”510 – 21
8 - Sergio Perez (McLaren MP4/28-Mercedes) - 1'50"536 - 27
9 - Nico Rosberg (Mercedes W04) - 1'50"601 – 33
10 - Paul Di Resta (Force India VJM06-Mercedes) - 1'50"611 – 27
11 - Adrian Sutil (Force India VJM06-Mercedes) - 1'50"629 - 30
12 - Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes W04) - 1'50"751 – 27
13 - Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber C32-Ferrari) - 1'50"972 - 33
14 - Pastor Maldonado (Williams FW35-Renault) - 1'50"991 - 28
15 - Jenson Button (McLaren MP4/28-Mercedes) - 1'51"195 - 28
16 - Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso STR8-Ferrari) - 1'51"447 – 26
17 - Valtteri Bottas (Williams FW35-Renault) - 1'51"568 - 28
18 - Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber C32-Ferrari) - 1'51"644 – 26
19 - Giedo Van der Garde (Caterham CT03-Renault) - 1'53"157 - 21
20 – Charles Pic (Caterham CT03-Renault) - 1'53"251 - 29
21 – Jules Bianchi (Marussia MR02-Cosworth) - 1'53"482 - 28
22 – Max Chilton (Marussia MR02-Cosworth) - 1'54"418 – 12
*Unofficial timing

Daniel Ricciardo, Mark Webber, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, F1
Daniel Ricciardo and Mark Webber (Photo: WRi2)