Hamilton fastest in Spa practice

McLaren's world champion Lewis Hamilton was quickest today on his return to the Belgian Grand Prix circuit where he was stripped of victory last year.

The 24-year-old Briton, Formula One's youngest champion, lapped the fast and sweeping Spa layout in one minute 47.201 seconds after failing to set a time in the day's opening session.

Toyota's Timo Glock was second, 0.016 slower, after Italian team mate Jarno Trulli topped the timesheets in a rainswept morning session.

The sun came out after lunch and Hamilton, who was demoted to third last year for cutting a chicane during a thrilling race, showed that McLaren's recent revival was not confined to tight and twisty tracks.

Toyota, still chasing their first win, also looked surprisingly quick while favourites Red Bull had Australian Mark Webber fourth fastest behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, who pulled over in the closing seconds.

French rookie Romain Grosjean was an impressive fifth for Renault.

Championship leader Jenson Button, who leads team mate Rubens Barrichello by 18 points, was a distant 17th with the Brazilian 18th. Button had been second in the morning before the rain fell.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, fourth in the championship but 25 points adrift of Button, sat out the first session to save his engines after blowing two in Valencia last weekend but was 10th in the afternoon.

The 22-year-old has only two fresh engines remaining and will collect a 10-place penalty on the starting grid at any race where he has to go over his official allocation of eight engines for the season.

"Having two failures within two days was not a good thing...it affects the programme for the rest of the season," he had said after arriving at the circuit.

"The last thing we want is to take a penalty, so the question now is what can we do.

"We are considering now all our options and possibly this means less running for myself on a Friday, so less practice which for sure is not an advantage."

Ferrari stand-in Luca Badoer, who made his race comeback in Spain last Sunday after nearly a decade's absence, looked ragged on a track that he at least has previous experience of.

The 38-year-old Italian was 10th in the morning, his time flattered by the capricious weather conditions, and then slowest in the afternoon with a time more than two seconds off Hamilton's best.

Badoer, replacing injured Brazilian Felipe Massa, needs a far more convincing drive this weekend after struggling in Valencia. Compatriot Giancarlo Fisichella, who would love to replace Badoer, was sixth fastest for Force India.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk