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Drivers find little cheer in Friday wash-out

31 August 2012

There was little for drivers and teams to report after Friday proved a dismal wash-out for much of the scheduled F1 free practice time.

"It's a shame when there's so much water, as we'd love to go out on track more, but you can't," said world champion Sebastian Vettel. "It's a shame for fans around the track - it's quite windy and probably not so nice out on the grandstands.

"It's a shame because we love Spa and it would be nice to do some more laps, but in the end you can't really learn much in these conditions," agreed his Red Bull team mate Mark Webber. "We got some info from FP1, but you can't race when there's so much standing water on track and you probably wouldn't qualify in this, so in the end we just put the car to bed tonight and come back tomorrow."

"You can't race in these conditions, as the tyres can't get rid of the water," agreed Vettel. "Hopefully [the fans] can come back tomorrow with dry clothes and we'll have some sunshine – that's the forecast anyway!"

Vettel's compatriot Michael Schumacher - fresh from having been made an honorary citizen of Spa on Thursday - did his best to take a turn out on track to satisfy his legion of fans in the area, but in the end even the 'rainmeister' was thwarted.

"Unfortunately the weather today did not allow us to do much more than just basic work as there was too much rain coming down in both sessions," he said. "There was a lot of aquaplaning, even when just cautiously cruising around the circuit which sometimes you did not see or expect at all, so proper driving was not possible."

"Although it was raining hard, we learned a little about the behaviour of the car today - we collected some data for the starts, balance and tyre temperatures as you can always learn something in the rain," said his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg. "It wasn't dangerous as long as you went slowly where the big puddles were," he insisted.

"It's the same for everyone and we will all just be thinking about tomorrow now," said Pastor Maldonado down pit lane in the Williams F1 garage. "It was quite a frustrating day, not being able to get much running."

Valtteri Bottas had possession of the other Williams car in the slightly more productive FP1 morning session, but even so had found it very hard to cope with. "It was very slippery out there today in difficult conditions," he said. "Visibility was poor when it was raining and when there were cars in front, but we still got a good amount of laps in."

"Spa's notorious for its weather but I can't remember seeing it rain this hard for a long time," was Heikki Kovalainen's view from the Caterham garage. "After today there's really not a lot to say after most of Friday was washed out."

His team mate Vitaly Petrov added: "I made the strategy call to stay as warm as possible in the motorhome, wearing two jumpers and a couple of jackets and keeping as far away from the rain as possible!"

"I was surprised by the large amount of rain that poured down during both sessions," said HRT's Pedro de la Rosa. "We anticipated the morning session to be less wet and that's why we made the most of it to complete our only run.

"In the afternoon, with the track in even worse conditions, we decided not to go out as it didn't contribute anything to us," he continued. "It's been almost a month since we drove the car and the positive side was that I was able to get rid of the rust and get a feel for the car."

"Other than to praise the accuracy of the weather service, which was so precise, there is not much to say about today," offered Sauber's head of track engineering, Giampaolo Dall'Ara. "We just got our basic homework done, with start practice and systems checks."

"It is such a shame for the brave spectators," added Sergio Perez. "I believe the fans in Spa really love F1 and today we left them disappointed. I hope we can make up for this tomorrow and on Sunday and put on a good show."

"I feel very sorry for the spectators here in the grandstands," agreed Kamui Kobayashi as he stared at the unceasing rainfall outside. "There wasn't anything to learn out there and it is obviously pretty easy to damage the car in these conditions."

The Japanese driver added that today's rain had been quite the change from his August holiday locales. "I can't say much except: welcome to Spa - and welcome back to reality. I didn't see a drop of rain for the five weeks I have just spent in Tokyo and Hawaii!"

While Spa isn't likely to offer Hawaiian beach weather for Saturday and Sunday, it should at least be drier and warmer to allow the teams to get down to some proper running in the morning FP3 ahead of qualifying.

"The best thing is to focus on tomorrow," said HRT's Narain Karthikeyan. "No rain is anticipated so we will work on making up for lost time."


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