Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen was fastest in the first practice session for this weekends Belgian Grand Prix. The Finn set his fastest lap on the ultrasoft tyre to go .05 of a second faster than Lewis Hamilton driver with his team-mate Sebastian Vettel third.
Raikkonen who has always performed well at Spa, set his best time late in the session to pip Hamilton who set his best time on the slower soft tyre which is the hardest compound of tyre that Pirelli have brought for this weekend.
This makes Hamilton’s run even more impressive, as he set a best times in all three sectors suggesting if he had done it on the same lap he could of set the fast lap. But, Mercedes tend not to reveal their full potential on Friday’s, suggesting there could be more to come.
Championship leader Vettel was a tenth of his team-mates fastest time on the same tyre compound. Red Bull also set their best laps on the ultrasofts, early on with Daniel Ricciardo setting the fastest time early on with a 46.6. that time stood after the frantic few minutes early on, which saw Hamilton and Raikkonen go faster.
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas had to abort his early runs after a mistake at the chicane before Stavelot. It appeared as the Finn was trying to move out the way of a McLaren he went off.
During the session, Hamilton, Vandoorne and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson all ran the halo cockpit protection device.
Felipe Massa’s return to the driving seat saw his session end in the barrier just a quarter of an hour into the session.
It appears as he lost the rear on his first flying lap, ran wide and made contact with the barrier. That brought out the red flag, damaging the left side of Massa’s car and Williams later confirmed it would require a chassis change, making an appearance in FP2 uncertain.
It was a good start for Toro Rosso, with both cars in the top ten Carlos Sainz was seventh and Daniil Kvyat ninth the pair split by the Force India of Esteban Ocon.
There were signs of encouragement from McLaren, Stoffel Vandoorne was eleventh fastest and two-tenths of the pace. But, the Belgian knows while the Honda power unit is delivering more power and performance, he is set to start last thanks to a thirty-five place penalty due to an engine change.
Jolyon Palmer was one tenth faster than Nico Hulkenberg, with the Renault duo only split by a tenth.
The second McLaren of Fernando Alonso was thirteenth, he is running an upgraded Honda power unit this weekend but spent much of the session complaining that his Drag Reduction System (DRS) was not working throughout the lap.
Things didn’t get better though, he soon reported he had “no power” shortly followed where the red flags as he tried to return to the pits.