Lewis Hamilton had a difficult first day at Spa, finishing FP2 only 12th and some 1.420 seconds off pace-setter Sebastian Vettel after struggling to find one-lap speed.
Hamilton, who came to Belgium on the back of his Hungarian GP win, said he lacked grip with the low downforce specification used at Spa.
“We have some work ahead of us this evening to get the car feeling just right, but overall today was a reasonable start to the weekend,” he said. “The car feels very different here with the low downforce setup, compared to at the last race, and we need to refine a few areas to get the balance sorted.
“We were able to get some good long-run work done today, and that’s the most important thing for the race. We’ve got time to make the changes required, so I’m optimistic that tomorrow will see an improvement.”
Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, meanwhile, was happier, although he was only 0.170 seconds quicker than Hamilton.
“I’m not entirely sure where we are compared to the others, but it looks like it will be quite a tough challenge,” said the German. “And, of course, it is a completely different track here to at the last race. Today, went pretty well for us, though, and it could be an interesting weekend, particularly with the mixed weather conditions that are predicted.”
Despite the obvious issues, team boss Ross Brawn remains optimistic: “We had a good day overall. There were lots of new parts to test, we got that work done successfully and once the drivers had settled into their race simulation runs this afternoon, the lap times looked pretty respectable. We still have some work to do on our single-lap pace, but we think we know what needs to be done there in order to improve.”