Free practice one: Coulthard on top

The top three in the Formula 1 World Championship let the rest of the field do track-cleaning duties for the opening 50 minutes of the first free practice session at Spa, but still banged in the top three times when they finally condescended to appear

Free practice one: Coulthard on top

With just 10 minutes of the session to run, the stalemate was broken when the McLarens of David Coulthard and points-leader Mika Hakkinen finally took to the circuit, with Michael Schumacher's Ferrari quickly following.

Coulthard, the winner of last year's Belgian Grand Prix, was quickest, setting a 1m53.398s lap that bettered Schumacher's best effort by 0.828s. Hakkinen finished third quickest, with a 1m54.655s, but the session was little more than a shakedown for the second hour of free practice that starts at 1200 BST.

Jordan's Jarno Trulli finished best of the rest with a 1m54.666s lap that pushed Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari down to fifth (1m54.714s).

The first 20 minutes had been a private test session for Minardi, but as the major players began to trickle out and the thick layer of Ardennes dust was progressively diffusered away from the racing line, the times began to drop. Jenson Button's Williams topped the timesheets at the 30 minute mark with a 1m55.270s, but he was quickly knocked down the order first by Trulli, then by Jacques Villeneuve's BAR. Barrichello went top with 10 minutes remaining, but after that it was all about the big three.

Weather conditions are perfect at Spa, with warm sunshine and a light breeze. Temperatures are set to rise for the second session, but expect the times to tumble as McLaren and Ferrari begin to put in some serious lapping.

For full free practice session one results click here.

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