Fabio Leimer topped a soaking-wet half-hour free practice session for the GP2 Series at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday, which was concluded early when Johnny Cecotto Jr. suffered a big crash at Pouhon.
With rain falling hard, conditions were treacherously slippery from the start, and standing water caused drivers to make continuous corrections through the steering wheel, even on the straights as they aquaplaned over rivers running across the track.
In the early going, the Lotus machines of James Calado and Esteban Gutierrez swapped fastest times, but points leader Luiz Razia grabbed the top spot with nine minutes remaining in his Arden-run car. As the rain began to abate, Razia's title rival Davide Valsecchi set the fastest time, only for Razia to wrest it back seconds later.
Cecotto was next to lead the way, as the times began to tumble, followed by Racing Engineering's Leimer, who was 0.96sec faster than Ocean's Nigel Melker.
The improvements were halted by red flags, as Cecotto slammed into the tire wall at Pouhon after running wide onto the curb through the first left-hander and spinning backward into the wall at the second element.
Cecotto ended the session third, but his Addax team will have a big job to repair his badly damaged car in time for qualifying this afternoon.
Razia and Valsecchi, who are seven points apart at the top of the championship, were separated by a tenth of a second in fourth and fifth. Marcus Ericsson was sixth for iSport, ahead of Calado, as Gutierrez fell down the order to 10th.
In such foul weather, incidents were numerous: Jolyon Palmer spun at Les Combes early on, with Stefano Coletti rotating seconds later. Cecotto also spun at Les Combes a lap later, with Calado doing likewise.
Besides Cecotto, Daniel de Jong was the only other casualty of the session, depositing his Rapax car into the barriers at Les Combes.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 2m22.580s
2. Nigel Melker Ocean 2m23.540s + 0.960s
3. Johnny Cecotto Jr Addax 2m23.911s + 1.331s
4. Luiz Razia Arden 2m24.292s + 1.712s
5. Davide Valsecchi DAMS 2m24.394s + 1.814s
6. Marcus Ericsson iSport 2m24.665s + 2.085s
7. James Calado Lotus 2m25.145s + 2.565s
8. Victor Guerin Ocean 2m25.330s + 2.750s
9. Stefano Coletti Coloni 2m25.431s + 2.851s
10. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus 2m25.540s + 2.960s
11. Felipe Nasr DAMS 2m25.957s + 3.377s
12. Julian Leal Trident 2m25.961s + 3.381s
13. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 2m25.969s + 3.389s
14. Rodolfo Gonzalez Caterham 2m26.226s + 3.646s
15. Jolyon Palmer iSport 2m26.687s + 4.107s
16. Rio Haryanto Carlin 2m26.841s + 4.261s
17. Stephane Richelmi Trident 2m27.804s + 5.224s
18. Fabio Onidi Coloni 2m27.945s + 5.365s
19. Simon Trummer Arden 2m28.078s + 5.498s
20. Josef Kral Addax 2m28.639s + 6.059s
21. Max Chilton Carlin 2m28.751s + 6.171s
22. Ricardo Teixeira Rapax 2m30.324s + 7.744s
23. Sergio Canamasas Lazarus 2m30.461s + 7.881s
24. Nathanael Berthon Racing Engineering 2m31.938s + 9.358s
25. Daniel de Jong Rapax 2m33.864s + 11.284s
26. Rene Binder Lazarus 2m34.328s + 11.748s