So… did we learn anything from Spa practice?

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Fernando Alonso topped the practice sheets today as the Formula 1 season resumed for the Belgium Grand Prix.

Adrian Sutil, who was second in the afternoon session, bumped up those Force India hopes of repeating last year’s surprise podium, although he was quick to downplay the quick pace.

Beyond that, the usual suspects in the McLarens and Red Bulls were running around at the top. Here’s the finishes, first practice uno (formatted by the good folks at Autosport. Thanks!):

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2m00.797s 17
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 2m01.567s + 0.770s 7
3. Robert Kubica Renault 2m02.081s + 1.284s 14
4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2m02.450s + 1.653s 11
5. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 2m02.646s + 1.849s 14
6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2m02.913s + 2.116s 6
7. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 2m02.926s + 2.129s 11
8. Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 2m03.401s + 2.604s 17
9. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 2m03.424s + 2.627s 7
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 2m03.489s + 2.692s 9
11. Felipe Massa Ferrari 2m03.601s + 2.804s 17
12. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 2m03.649s + 2.852s 17
13. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2m03.654s + 2.857s 6
14. Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari 2m03.851s + 3.054s 17
15. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 2m04.145s + 3.348s 12
16. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 2m04.250s + 3.453s 16
17. Vitaly Petrov Renault 2m04.690s + 3.893s 15
18. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 2m05.680s + 4.883s 6
19. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2m05.697s + 4.900s 18
20. Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 2m06.695s + 5.898s 14
21. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 2m07.189s + 6.392s 15
22. Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 2m07.737s + 6.940s 13
23. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2m07.955s + 7.158s 15
24. Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 2m10.507s + 9.710s 18

Then the drier second practice, in which Alonso only bested Sutil on his last lap:

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m49.032s 25
2. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m49.157s +0.125 17
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m49.248s +0.216 14
4. Robert Kubica Renault 1m49.282s +0.250 20
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m49.588s +0.556 23
6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m49.689s +0.657 19
7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m49.755s +0.723 20
8. Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1m50.081s +1.049 27
9. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m50.128s +1.096 22
10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m50.200s +1.168 24
11. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m50.251s +1.219 24
12. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m50.341s +1.309 23
13. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m50.382s +1.350 21
14. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m50.682s +1.650 25
15. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1m50.831s +1.799 20
16. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1m51.520s +2.488 17
17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m51.523s +2.491 25
18. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m51.636s +2.604 19
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1m53.480s +4.448 15
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1m53.639s +4.607 21
21. Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1m54.325s +5.293 17
22. Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1m55.751s +6.719 24
23. Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1m56.039s +7.007 21
24. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2m03.179s +14.147 3

As you can tell in the time differences, the track for the latter running was much less wet.

Anything leap out at you? Here’s a few quick thoughts from me — but only based on the times. I haven’t seen the practice yet:

  • Force India could be reaching its best stretch of the season, since it looks initially like last year’s success on fast tracks has carried over. We’ll see, though.
  • Let the “Felipe Massa can’t drive in the wet” talk start again.
  • On the drier track, you still really can see the difference between the three new teams and the older ones. It’s even kind of there in the wet.
  • Renault looks strong.
  • We might have an interesting race among Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren — and that might just be true until the end of the year. It could be exciting.

That’s it from me. Your thoughts? Everyone must have weeks of pent-up commenting just waiting to come out. Let it go!

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