Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton shrugged off the happenings of the week to post the two fastest times of day one in Belgium, although both admitted that there was some way to go before they were completely happy with their lot.

Having been third fastest in the morning session, Alonso vaulted to the head of the timesheets in the second 90-minute outing, besting Hamilton by a tenth of a second, but the Spaniard insisted that there was work to do.

"It was a good start to the weekend, with all our set-up work completed and with some positive results," he said, "The car feels good to drive round here but, as always, there is still room for improvement. We have a good idea of where we are and where we can improve, so it should be a close fight all weekend."

Alonso, who did not have to make the trip from Paris having opted not to attend the World Motor Sport Council hearing, set the pace with a time of 1min 46.654secs, completing 45 laps on the day. Team-mate Hamilton completed 47 laps, but insisted that he had failed to find a really clean one.

"We completed all our work without any problems," the Briton reported, "I love this circuit, so really enjoyed driving round here and just seeing what the MP4-22 could do. The balance of the car is good, but I struggled to get a clear lap until the very end. That being said, I could really feel a definite improvement in our overall performance since we tested here back in July."

For team boss Ron Dennis, the relief at being able to concentrate on practice was obvious.

"It's good to be focusing on the track action, with two problem-free practice sessions today where we managed to complete all our race preparation work," he said, "We will have to continue to optimise the car's performance as the circuit cleans and the grip levels improve, but absolutely everyone in the team is fully committed and focused towards winning here this weekend."



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