Belgian GP: Vettel leads FP1 from Verstappen

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Belgian GP: Vettel leads FP1 from Verstappen
By: Scott Mitchell
Aug 24, 2018, 10:36 AM

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time in the opening practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix as Formula 1 returned from its summer break.

Vettel edged Red Bull driver Max Verstappen to the quickest time in FP1 at Spa, with championship leader Lewis Hamilton third despite avoiding the fastest tyre compound.

Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas hit the top of the pile at the end of the opening half an hour with the first sub-1m45s lap, a 1m44.998s on softs.

That was quickly replaced as the benchmark by Hamilton's 1m44.676, also on softs, which stood as the four-time world champion's best lap of the 90-minute session as he chose not to use the supersoft tyres.

His rivals did, which allowed Vettel and Verstappen to overhaul Hamilton before the session's end.

Vettel only lapped 0.3s faster than Hamilton when he popped in a 1m44.358s, with Verstappen neatly splitting the gap between the two titles rivals.

That gave Red Bull some cheer to counter the problem that struck Daniel Ricciardo's car, as an engine problem confined him to the garage for most of the session and restricted him to just one flying lap, which he used to jump to sixth right at the end.

That put him behind Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and Bottas, who was shuffled back to fifth as he avoided the supersofts and made a slight improvement on mediums.

Esteban Ocon gave the 'new' Racing Point Formula 1 team a strong start to its 'debut' weekend with the seventh-fastest time.

Ocon edged Renault's Nico Hulkenberg to best-of-the-rest honours on a 1m45.786s

Sergio Perez backed up teammate Ocon in ninth, with Carlos Sainz completing the top 10 after a late improvement in the second Renault.

McLaren 2019 hopeful Lando Norris made his grand prix weekend debut with the team, driving in place of the outgoing Fernando Alonso in FP1.

He set the 18th-fastest time, 3.006s off the pace but less than a tenth quicker than teammate Stoffel Vandoorne.

Norris and Vandoorne are vying for the second McLaren seat alongside Sainz next season, with Ocon also a contender.

Vandoorne, who moved to quash speculation suggesting he could lose his McLaren drive as early as next weekend in Italy, was hampered by a brake problem early in the session.

He then lost more track time at the end of the session as the team removed the floor to investigate a suspected leak.

Cla Driver Team Engine Laps Time Gap Interval km/h
1 Germany Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 19 1'44.358     241.614
2 Netherlands Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 20 1'44.509 0.151 0.151 241.265
3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 22 1'44.676 0.318 0.167 240.880
4 Finland Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari 17 1'44.718 0.360 0.042 240.783
5 Finland Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes Mercedes 25 1'44.724 0.366 0.006 240.770
6 Australia Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 4 1'45.558 1.200 0.834 238.867
7 France Esteban Ocon  Racing Point Mercedes 22 1'45.786 1.428 0.228 238.352
8 Germany Nico Hulkenberg  Renault Renault 19 1'45.951 1.593 0.165 237.981
9 Mexico Sergio Perez  Racing Point Mercedes 21 1'46.169 1.811 0.218 237.493
10 Spain Carlos Sainz   Renault Renault 19 1'46.210 1.852 0.041 237.401
11 France Pierre Gasly  Toro Rosso Honda 25 1'46.300 1.942 0.090 237.200
12 France Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 20 1'46.387 2.029 0.087 237.006
13 Monaco Charles Leclerc  Sauber Ferrari 20 1'46.554 2.196 0.167 236.634
14 Sweden Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari 19 1'46.557 2.199 0.003 236.628
15 New Zealand Brendon Hartley  Toro Rosso Honda 23 1'46.932 2.574 0.375 235.798
16 Canada Lance Stroll  Williams Mercedes 25 1'46.965 2.607 0.033 235.725
17 Denmark Kevin Magnussen  Haas Ferrari 21 1'47.012 2.654 0.047 235.622
18 United Kingdom Lando Norris  McLaren Renault 26 1'47.364 3.006 0.352 234.849
19 Russian Federation Sergey Sirotkin  Williams Mercedes 23 1'47.367 3.009 0.003 234.843
20 Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren Renault 13 1'47.452 3.094 0.085 234.657
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About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Scott Mitchell
Article type Practice report