After the four-week summer break, Formula One returned to action today at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. As the track in the Belgian Ardennes is close to the German border, it is like a home match for both Mercedes GP drivers Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
The first practice session began in very wet conditions with Michael and Nico completing a couple of exploratory runs before a heavy shower midway through the session brought all the cars back into their garages. With the track conditions unlikely to improve significantly, the team called an early end to the session to begin preparations for the afternoon.
Despite further rain during the break, the second session proved drier with the track suitable for intermediate tyres within the first half hour. The track continued to dry out with Michael and Nico able to go out on slicks before the end of the day.
Michael Schumacher: "It's obviously a beautiful feeling to be back on this track which is still great to drive. It's also beautiful because I have a lot of good memories linked to Spa. But this doesn't help a great deal with the situation that we are facing here and having a ten place penalty makes it difficult to go into the weekend with big hopes for a good result. The weather might help a little by mixing up the field and so I hope it does not change too much over the race weekend."
Nico Rosberg: "It's been a difficult day for us as we have been trying to get our revised parts for the car to work. The weather conditions have complicated our programme and whilst we've tried a lot of different things, it's been tough to get any consistent feedback. I've suffered with understeer all day and really struggled with the balance on the wet tyres. The inters were better and it's difficult to say for the slicks really. I was quite far off with my car balance with the dry tyres so that didn't help. So a tricky start to the weekend for us and we need to sit down overnight and try to solve the problems."
Ross Brawn: "It was a very challenging day but then these types of changeable conditions may provide the opportunities that we can take advantage of this weekend. Nico's day was hindered by a few car issues which will be resolved by tomorrow whilst Michael was slightly happier with his progress."
Norber Haug: "A difficult first day for everybody with changing weather conditions which we all are familiar with at Spa and which seem to belong to this circuit like Eau Rouge and La Source. It seems that our upgrades can improve the car but we need tomorrow's practice session to get more running with the parts. The weather forecast is predicting rain which doesn't help when our target is to put new parts on the cars. However even in these tricky conditions we can continue to learn and make progress."