The rain arrived as expected mid-way through this afternoon's practice session at Spa-Francorchamps, but it was Fernando Alonso who picked his way through the rain, crashes and red flags to clock the fastest time of the session, a 1m48.454s. The Spaniard clocked his time only seconds after McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen had set a 1m48.790s, which dislodged team-mate Lewis Hamilton from top spot, having held it for almost the entire session. In the end, both McLaren were pushed further down the field when Felipe Massa came through to set a 1m48.504s to go second, exactly half a tenth off Alonso's pace.
With the session starting out dry, most teams were scrambling to get in a few early laps, knowing that the rain would eventually arrive. Twenty minutes into the session, Red Bull's Mark Webber spun into the tyre wall at Rivage, before the track was officially declared wet five minutes later. It didn't take long for the track to clear, as drivers opted to save their cars the risk of damage. Almost half an hour had passed before the Force India and the Williams cars joined Sebastian Vettel on-track, before Räikkönen emerged, only to spin backwards into the barrier at turn 9.
The Finn's spin resulted in water from the tyre barrier being spilled out into the track, and before too long, Giancarlo Fisichella spun on the stream at the exit of turn 9, spinning into the armco and damaging the front and rear wings. The red flags subsequently emerged, and the session was stopped for ten minutes. Once the session resumed, it took another ten minutes for the track to dry fully, with Nelson Piquet's spin at turn 9, near-identical to Kimi Räikkönen's, suggesting that conditions were still slippery.
By the end of the session, Alonso was fastest, followed by Massa and Kovalainen, with Hamilton's time of 1m48.805s, which he set on his very first flying lap and failed to better during the remainder of the session, good enough for fourth. Kimi Räikkönen, who failed to return to the track after his spin, finishing in fifth on a 1m49.328s. Sixth went to Nico Rosberg who made a surprising leap from the back of the field with a lap of 1m49.405s, faster than Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel (1m49.427s), while Adrian Sutil (1m49.585s) proved his worth in changeable conditions once again in eighth.
Rounding out the top ten were Jarno Trulli (1m49.715s) and Nick Heidfeld (1m49.725s), closely followed by Robert Kubica (1m49.875s), David Coulthard (1m49.922s) and Sébastien Bourdais (1m49.948s). Timo Glock (1m50.281s), Kazuki Nakajima (1m50.364s), Giancarlo Fisichella (1m50.740s) and Jenson Button (1m50.925s) all lapped in the 1m50s, while Rubens Barrichello (1m51.238s), Nelson Piquet (1m51.334s) and Mark Webber (1m51.640s) were in the 1m51s, with Webber completing just seven laps before spinning off the road.
With less than fifty minutes' running time this afternoon, it's difficult to draw any serious conclusions from the times, especially given that Räikkönen was unable to complete a final run. His crash, however, is unlikely to have any serious impact on his weekend, given that he only missed out on completing a final three-lap run, but nevertheless, Ferrari look in very good shape. With McLaren again struggling to keep with Ferrari's pace in pretty much all conditions, the Silver Arrows will have a lot of work to do tonight to claw back the deficit.