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Nico Rosberg has completed a clean sweep of topping free practice on the first day of action for the Belgian Grand Prix, but will be more appreciative to have escaped a potentially sizeable accident following a high-speed tyre blow-out.

Having set the pace early on with a lap of 1min 49.385secs, Rosberg was coming up to the quick Blanchimont left-hander with 25mins remaining when the right-rear Pirelli tyre deflated dramatically, sending Rosberg into a high-speed spin.

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The title contender successfully wrestled the car to a stop without hitting the barriers, but would be forced to sit out the remainder of the session. Despite this, no driver was able to usurp Rosberg in absentia, allowing him to end the first day no doubt happy with his pace, if perhaps less confident in the car and tyres around him.

Indeed, Rosberg's cause was arguably aided by a second red flag period shortly after the restart, prompted when Marcus Ericsson got out of shape on the kerbs mid-way through Pouhon, the Swede losing control and striking the barriers at speed. Though taken to the medical centre, he was out of the heavily damaged car and walking.

Behind Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton trailed three-tenths behind as Mercedes exerted its familiar advantage out front, with Daniel Ricciardo once again leading the challenge for Red Bull in third, seven-tenths adrift and the only other driver to get within a second of Rosberg.

Daniil Kvyat complemented his team-mate in fourth to reveal Red Bull as a potential contender for 'best of the rest' behind Mercedes, with Kimi Raikkonen fifth fastest, from Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean, the latter stopping his Lotus on track as the chequered flag came out.

Despite the abrupt end to his day, Ericsson and his team-mate Felipe Nasr gave Sauber reason to be happy with the upgraded Ferrari power unit as both drivers ended the day inside the top ten and ahead of a low-key Sebastian Vettel.

Outside the top ten, Williams appear to be saving its best for Saturday as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa clocked only the 14th and 16th best times, while McLaren-Honda's new power unit revealed little on its track debut, with Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso 2.4s and 3.1s adrift of the top spot.