Rosberg fastest ahead of Hamilton in 1st Belgian GP practice

But during that very volatile period, perhaps the only thing the lunatics-as team boss Toto Wolff politely referred to them, per Sky Sports-didn't complain about to @MercedesAMGF1 was among the most glaring, strangest errors made by F1's most attentive team since they became the sport's dominance force in 2014.

"That (Hamilton's penalty) is going to make the weekend less hard for me, for sure, because he is my biggest direct rival", the German said on Thursday.

"I don't look at it [the engine failures] as incompetence".

"Otherwise, beyond that, I think I will be able to continue with the momentum that I had before the break".

Only works drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg ran with the new specification from the start of first practice at Spa, although Mercedes has not specified which areas of the power unit have been upgraded. After the pair clashed in Spain to put one another out in the fifth round, however, Hamilton has been on a roll.

They will however, be provided with the tantalising prospect of watching Hamilton storm back through the field in Sunday's race.

Nico Rosberg began his Belgian Grand Prix weekend in emphatic fashion after soaring to the top of the timesheets as Formula One roared back into action following its mid-season break.

John Watson, the Belfast-born former McLaren driver, holds the record of winning from the lowest start slot after lining up in 22nd on the grid of 26 competitors before winning the 1983 United States Grand Prix at Long Beach. However, a third new engine is expected to be introduced during Saturday practice, meaning Hamilton will be bumped back even further, as the grid penalty would hilariously increase to 75 places. Last year's race was notable for significantly more incidences of debris damage to tyres than usual. "This means a further 15 place penalty".

The curious result is likely to be a knock-on effect from Hamilton's penalty.

"In terms of winning that is the goal, but it is going to be very, very hard", said Hamilton, who is just one victory shy of 50 career wins.

"I had a really bad go-kart when I started and always had to start last because it was so bad, and then I drove through the field", the 31-year-old British driver said.

"As far as I'm aware, we will be taking the penalty this weekend", the Mercedes driver told reporters at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit yesterday. He started 22nd in China and fought back to seventh and managed second from 10th in Russian Federation. While Rosberg took his fourth of every element, Hamilton was on his fourth ICE, his fourth MGU-K, his sixth MGU-H and his sixth turbocharger, and is hence set for a 15-place grid penalty. "I guess I'm the lab rat that's tested all the issues".

Rosberg, whose engine usage is within the parameters the team have planned for and does not now expect to incur any penalties, was taking nothing for granted.

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