Belgian Grand Prix – Sebastian Vettel has led a convincing Ferrari 1-2 in first practice, but Mercedes opted not to show their hand on the Soft tyres.
Sebastian Vettel has finished as fastest man in the opening practice session at Spa-Francorchamps, ahead of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver clocked a 1:44.574 on the Soft compound tyre to eclipse his teammate Charles Leclerc by 0.214 seconds on the same compound.
The Red Bull drivers claimed P3 and P4, with Max Verstappen leading Alex Albon – but not by much. The Dutch driver set a 1:45.507 to go 0.933 down on Vettel’s best but was just 0.077 clear of Albon on the same compound tyres. It was an impressive debut session for the British/Thai racer at his new team, as he gradually got quicker and quicker over the session.
Valtteri Bottas finished P5 for Mercedes, having never run the Soft tyres unlike the top four finishers. The Finn set a 1:45.882 on the Mediums to finish 1.3 seconds down on Vettel, and finished just ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton. The reigning Champion encountered an early problem on his outlap, when a throttle pedal issue slowed him down and forced him to trundle back to the pits for checks and repairs. When he did manage to get back out, he stayed on the Medium tyre and eventually wound up just 0.091 down on his teammate.
Lance Stroll finished in P7 in practice in his updated Racing Point. The Canadian driver was another driver to encounter early morning issues when his engine cover disintegrated along the Kemmel Straight and scattered debris all over the track. He pitted for repairs, while a brief Virtual Safety Car period allowed the marshals to clean up the track. Stroll pipped Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who finished P8 after looking fast throughout the session.
Sergio Perez underlined the potential of Racing’s Points updates to finish in P9, while Carlos Sainz rounded out the top ten in his McLaren.
Nico Hulkenberg finished P11 for Renault, with Lando Norris P12 in the second McLaren. Kimi Raikkonen was P13 for Alfa Romeo, having weathered the session with his pulled leg muscle. It’s still unconfirmed whether it will be him or Marcus Ericsson completing the rest of the weekend but, with Raikkonen competing for the full ninety minutes of FP1 – it’s likely the Finn will be OK to race.
Romain Grosjean was P14 for Haas in the first practice session, with Antonio Giovinazzi P15 in the second Alfa. Kevin Magnussen was P16 in his Haas, while Daniil Kvyat led a bad session for Toro Rosso. The Russian driver spun at La Source early on but recovered – he finished in P17 and 0.3 clear of Pierre Gasly. The French driver, demoted from Red Bull for the second half of the season, finished P18 and just ahead of the Williams drivers.
Nicholas Latifi, taking part in FP1 in place of George Russell, finished P19 and just over a tenth clear of Robert Kubica.