Grand Prix teams tested at the Belgian circuit as part of their normal testing schedule between races. McLaren topped the first day courtesy Lewis Hamilton while it was left to the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen to take the honours on day two and three respectively. Lewis posted the fastest time overall, lapping the 7 km long circuit in 1m 46.613 seconds. On that day, there’d been a shower overnight but usefully for the teams, the track was dry for the start of the test session and remained as such throught the rest of the day. Day two saw a wet start to the session, with the track drying out during the morning before rain making a return during the afternoon. Weather is always going to be a lottery at Spa. Felipe Massa posted a 1m 46.698 in his Ferrari – just a few hundredths down on Lewis’ best. Changeable weather conditions characterized day three that was topped by Kimi Raikkonen with a 1m 47.042 – four tenths off the previous best times.
Testing being testing, it’s always difficult to predict the real pecking order. Teams play around with their fuel loads, programmes (simulating long runs/qualifying laps, engine evaluation, tyre tests etc.), set-ups and test various aerodynamic components (even aerodynamic packages, sometimes) that’ve been wind-tunnel tested to sign them off for races. They collect valuable tyre data so that they won’t have to start with a clean sheet with regards to the mechanical set-up when they go racing in the venue they tested. Even then, variation in track temperatures can alter significantly the balance of the car (oversteer/understeer) and hence they’ll have to have a constant look-out for that decisive factor.