Formula 1's August break wasn't expected to transform the competitive order. But the Belgian Grand Prix was seen as an opportunity for some of the Mercedes-powered support cast, Williams in particular, to have a chance to spring a surprise.
But with Mercedes comfortably ahead during Friday practice, three quarters of a second faster than the nearest challenger, it was a surprise to see Fernando Alonso's Ferrari as the best of the rest in third place on a day when there were a few shocks on the timesheets.
The big surprise was arguably Williams, which was over a second off the pace on headline speed, and around seven tenths of a second off on long-run pace. With Ferrari and Red Bull showing signs of promise, it suggests the battle for best of the rest could be more interesting than some anticipated.
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Edd Straw is Editor-in-Chief of Autosport, overseeing both print and digital versions of the brand. Edd has worked for Autosport since joining as a junior reporter in 2002. He became Editor in November 2014, having previously worked as National Editor, News Editor and Grand Prix Editor.
Originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, he joined Autosport shortly after graduating from university. He went on to cover a wide range of categories from club motorsport to the World Touring Car Championship and Le Mans to Formula 3 before switching to F1 full-time at the 2008 French Grand Prix. He continues to cover a range of international events in his position as Editor-in-Chief.
In his spare time, he was formerly a club racer whose abilities did not match his enthusiasm in a variety of categories.