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Nico Rosberg headed up the timesheets in first free practice for the Belgian Grand Prix as Formula 1 fired into action again at Spa-Francorchamps, despite the title contender missing a portion of the session due to technical issues.

The German, who comes into the weekend trailing Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 21 points, sat out the first-half of the FP1 session after his installation lap revealed a 'loss of drive', but a productive second-half saw him recover laps and turn in the quickest lap of 1min 51.082secs.

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That would place him just over two tenths clear of Hamilton as Mercedes resumed their 1-2 positions at the head of the timesheets, though last year's Belgian GP winner Daniel Ricciardo lifted Red Bull Racing into the mix, just five hundredths behind the defending champion in third.

Fresh from the confirmation he will remain with Ferrari next season, Kimi Raikkonen turned in the fourth fastest time - four tenths off the top -, ahead of team-mate and Hungarian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel in fifth.

A strong start to the weekend for the Renault-powered contingent, Daniil Kvyat and the Toro Rossos of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz followed up in sixth, seventh and eighth respectively, with Force India's Sergio Perez and Williams' Valtteri Bottas completing the top ten.

Despite taking three corners off his Lotus - and prompting a red flag period - after spinning into the wall on the exit of Les Combes, Pastor Maldonado was still 11th fastest, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, while Felipe Nasr was 13th fastest in the Sauber with its upgraded Ferrari engine.

Meanwhile, McLaren's upgraded Honda power unit revealed little about its potential performance boost, with both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button keeping mileage relatively limited down in 16th and 18th quickest respectively.