Mercedes AMG Petronas began the Belgian Grand Prix weekend at the top of the time sheets - Nico Rosberg setting the pace in the first practice session and Lewis Hamilton topping the second at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Lewis ended the day fastest, posting a best time of 1:49.189 on the soft tyres during the second session. Nico's best lap of 1:49.793 put him second fastest to complete a Silver Arrows 1-2 in both sessions.
Medium compound Pirelli tyres were used in the first session, the medium and soft in the second. The team completed 103 laps today - equivalent to more than two race distances at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. A trouble-free day's running allowed the team to assess both tyre compounds and prepare for the weekend ahead.
Lewis Hamilton: It's great to be back in the car and it was feeling good out there today. The morning wasn't as strong, but it definitely improved in the afternoon. As always, we still have work to do tonight, but overall today was ok. It stayed dry throughout both sessions but the forecast is wet for tomorrow, so it was important to maximise track time as this may be our last dry running before the race. We've seen rain so often here in the past and that can really mix things up - particularly when it's wet in places and dry in others. Your visor is almost level with the ground, so it's not like looking from above where you can see the different patches. That makes it really hard to pick out the areas where you can find grip, but it's also a lot of fun. The only bad part of today was that I had my suit on when I did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It was pretty cold but I didn't feel it that much, so I think I'll need to do it again to make up for it!
Nico Rosberg: It's really great to be back at Spa. It's a fantastic track, the flow of the circuit is great and driving Eau Rouge is tricky this year with less downforce. You need to be really precise, and with worn tyres it was tough to take this unique corner flat out. It looks like we have the quickest car again, but it's a bit different here than at some other tracks. It seems that some of the other teams are closer and we need to work a bit on our speed down the straights. As normal, it will be a long night analysing everything that we learned today to really nail it tomorrow. The interesting challenge for this weekend is to find the right compromise between being quick over one lap and over a long distance in the race - especially if it's wet tomorrow, with the predictions currently saying we will have mixed conditions.
Toto Wolff: Spa is always a tough circuit for both the drivers and the cars, and it usually takes a little while for everything to come together during practice. The drivers were not completely happy at the start of the day and worked hard to improve the balance for the long runs this afternoon. The headline times looked good but we still need to make some progress to convert that into a good advantage in race conditions. That will be our focus overnight ahead of qualifying.
Paddy Lowe: We found the expected cool conditions today at Spa but fortunately neither session was disrupted by rain, so we completed a lot of work with both cars as we ran through the technical programme. This is a very challenging circuit at which to find the optimum set-up - balancing the requirements of the high-speed corners with the low drag you ideally want on the straights - so we did a lot of work on that to find the best compromise. Both drivers were struggling with the balance at different points of the session but we made good steps with the set-up to get them happier by the end of the day. However, we still have a lot more to do overnight to maximise the potential of the car.
Check out our Friday gallery, here.