Belgian GP: Bottas pips Hamilton, Verstappen in FP1

Valtteri Bottas set the pace in the opening Formula 1 practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix, leading a 1-2 finish for Mercedes ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Belgian GP: Bottas pips Hamilton, Verstappen in FP1

After seeing Max Verstappen set the initial pace on Friday morning at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on the medium tyre, Bottas jumped to the top of the standings after switching to the soft compound Pirellis.

Bottas recorded a fastest time of 1m44.493s to claim P1 in first practice and narrowly beat Hamilton, who set his lap just moments after his teammate but fell 0.069 seconds short.

Verstappen was able to run both Mercedes drivers close after making a slightly later switch to soft tyres, but was 0.081 seconds shy of Bottas' benchmark come the end of the session.

None of the leading three drivers opted for multiple attempts at the fastest time through a quiet opening practice at Spa that was not interrupted by a single stoppage or yellow flag.

Bottas suffered a front-left puncture during a race simulation run on the soft tyres late in the session, but was able to easily get back to the pits.

The session saw Racing Point continue its historic good form at Spa as Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll took fourth and fifth place respectively. Perez lapped just 0.136s off Bottas' leading time, with Stroll finishing a further two-tenths of a second behind.

Alexander Albon ended the session sixth for Red Bull, almost half a second down on teammate Verstappen.

Esteban Ocon was the leading Renault in opening practice at Spa, finishing seventh as Daniel Ricciardo ended the session ninth overall, one-tenth of a second behind his teammate.

The Renault drivers were split by McLaren's Carlos Sainz in eighth, while Lando Norris completed the top 10 in the sister McLaren MCL35.

Norris provoked an angry reaction from Pierre Gasly early in the session after the AlphaTauri driver felt he was held up by the McLaren at Stavelot, but the incident was not noted by the stewards.

Gasly finished the session 12th behind teammate Daniil Kvyat, with both drivers setting their best times on the medium compound tyre.

Kimi Raikkonen took 13th for Alfa Romeo ahead of the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, whose anticipated struggles on the straights left them well off the pace.

2019 Spa race winner Leclerc was 1.2 seconds off Bottas' time, while Vettel finished a further four-tenths of a second back.

Williams drivers Nicholas Latifi and George Russell finished 16th and 17th respectively, finishing ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Romain Grosjean and Antonio Giovinazzi, all of whom failed to set a time.

Grosjean reported a loss of power on his Haas F1 car early in the session, with the team confirming it was set to change the Ferrari power unit as a result of the issue. Magnussen's engine also had to be removed due to a similar problem.

Alfa Romeo said that Giovinazzi's car had suffered a "technical issue", limiting him to just two installation laps in FP1.

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 18 1'44.493  
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 17 1'44.562 0.069
3 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 20 1'44.574 0.081
4 Mexico Sergio Perez Racing Point 22 1'44.629 0.136
5 Canada Lance Stroll Racing Point 22 1'44.868 0.375
6 Thailand Alex Albon Red Bull 22 1'45.049 0.556
7 France Esteban Ocon Renault 20 1'45.099 0.606
8 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 24 1'45.222 0.729
9 Australia Daniel Ricciardo Renault 21 1'45.225 0.732
10 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 28 1'45.274 0.781
11 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 25 1'45.447 0.954
12 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 17 1'45.503 1.010
13 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 19 1'45.704 1.211
14 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 18 1'45.759 1.266
15 Germany Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 15 1'46.179 1.686
16 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 19 1'46.488 1.995
17 United Kingdom George Russell Williams 21 1'46.570 2.077
18 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 1    
19 France Romain Grosjean Haas 2    
20 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 2    
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Series Formula 1
Event Belgian GP
Sub-event FP1
Author Luke Smith
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