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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