• Australian sets the pace at rain-hit Spa-Francorchamps
• Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton third and fourth
Mark Webber took the honours in another rain-hit practice session for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
In the initial 90 minutes only the Mercedes pair of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were able to set times before the capricious nature of the region’s weather took hold.
The afternoon was a different story as the field enjoyed 55 minutes of relatively dry running at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit prior to the heavens opening again.
Although it eased off and a number of cars returned to the track, the majority settled for their dry times which were never going to be troubled.
Come the conclusion, Webber sat at the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1min 50.321sec, 0.140sec clear of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.
Such times, however, were over four seconds off Webber’s pole lap of last year, clearly indicating all the top teams have more in their locker.
The McLaren pair of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were half a second adrift in third and fourth, both Britons managing only nine laps.
Hamilton left it fashionably late before making his entrance, with his best time set on his only lap on the faster soft tyres moments before the rain came down.
Further adrift but still within a second of Webber were Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Rosberg before a gap of almost 0.4sec to Sauber’s Sergio Perez.
Behind the Mexican were the Force India pair of Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta, the former in the car to the annoyance of Adrian Sutil. Ordinarily reserve drivers take part in first practice, however, on this occasion Force India opted to reverse the order, leaving Sutil on the sidelines in the afternoon.
That meant the German missed the only true dry running of the day to which he said: “It is not good for the performance to not be in the car. It’s a bit disappointing what the team has done because it’s not good for the success. It was the only dry session we had and I missed it.”
The reigning world champion and current championship leader Sebastian Vettel was forced to settle for 10th spot, 1.469sec behind Webber, with Schumacher 11th.