Rain dominates first practice

  • Last Updated: August 31 2012, 11:16 BST

Formula One returned from its summer break to a deluge as opening practice for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix was dominated by rain.

Sebastian Vettel drives in the rain at Spa

Given the capricious nature of the weather across the Ardennes, a fine and sunny day on Thursday was followed by dark clouds and non-stop rain throughout the initial 90 minutes at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday.

The famous seven-kilometre track was already sodden when the rain set in 10 minutes prior to the start of the session after a 33-day hiatus since the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of July.

Nothing more than installation laps were the order of the day in the opening minutes prior to a period of silence as drivers sat in their garages waiting for a break in the weather.

It was not until around 45 minutes in the first time was posted, and although there was a very brief respite at one stage, it was not long before the heavy stuff reappeared and remained.

Come the end of the session Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi topped the largely irrelevant timesheet, although at least plenty of wet-weather information will have been garnered.

The Japanese completed a session-high 20 laps, with his best a time of two minutes 11.389secs, half a second clear of Williams' Pastor Maldonado, but 23 seconds adrift of last year's pole lap.

The Toro Rosso duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne were third and fourth, followed by Red Bull's Mark Webber and Sergio Perez in his Sauber.

Further down the order were reigning champion Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull in ninth, followed closely by Michael Schumacher for Mercedes, and on the occasion of his historic 300th grands prix this weekend.

As for the British trio, Force India's Paul di Resta was 11th, 4.4secs adrift of Kobayashi, with the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button 15th and 16th, the duo both 5.4secs down.

Towards the rear were the Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen in 21st and 23rd sandwiching current championship leader Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari, the trio 27, 29 and 35 seconds off the pace.

Felipe Massa sat at the bottom without a time to his name, but of greater concern will be the fact the engine in his Ferrari appeared to let go right at the death.

Times
01 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 2:11.389 19 laps
02 Pastor Maldonado Williams 2:11.941 0.552 13 laps
03 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 2:12.004 0.615 11 laps
04 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 2:12.824 1.435 14 laps
05 Mark Webber Red Bull 2:13.191 1.802 12 laps
06 Sergio Perez Sauber 2:13.861 2.472 15 laps
07 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2:14.210 2.821 13 laps
08 Valtteri Bottas Williams 2:14.660 3.271 15 laps
09 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 2:14.860 3.471 11 laps
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 2:15.402 4.013 12 laps
11 Paul di Resta Force India 2:15.812 4.423 10 laps
12 Timo Glock Marussia 2:16.409 5.020 15 laps
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 2:16.786 5.397 9 laps
14 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 2:16.788 5.399 15 laps
15 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 2:16.827 5.438 4 laps
16 Jenson Button McLaren 2:16.861 5.472 7 laps
17 Charles Pic Marussia 2:17.519 6.130 13 laps
18 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 2:18.199 6.810 9 laps
19 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 2:19.546 8.157 11 laps
20 Dani Clos HRT 2:19.689 8.300 12 laps
Fernando Alonso Ferrari 3 laps
Felipe Massa Ferrari 2 laps
Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 8 laps
Romain Grosjean Lotus 8 laps