Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest in first practice ahead of this weekends Belgian Grand Prix, going two tenths faster than teammate Charles Leclerc. The German set his fastest time on the soft tyres, as Mercedes struggled to get the laps together.
Ferrari were tipped to be strong this weekend given the power-sensitive nature of the Spa circuit and Ferrari’s car better suited to high-speed venues. Vettel went to the top of the times shortly after the midway point in the session, as first Leclerc knocked Max Verstappen from P1 and then Vettel set an even quicker time.
The Dutchman was third fastest ahead of his new teammate Alex Albon by two-hundredths of a second. Heading into his home Grand Prix he was looking to show he remains Red Bull’s lead driver, he is hoping for a good weekend.
Albon has an upgraded Honda engine in his car, which Verstappen is not taking this weekend, and the fuel loads and specifications in which the cars were running is not publicised. This means it could be a challenge for him on his first outing, but a great competitive in his first run in the car.
Valtteri Bottas was fifth fastest for Mercedes, the Finn was a second off the outright pace and nine-hundredths of a second faster than teammate Lewis Hamilton.
It wasn’t a trouble-free morning for the championship leader, going the grass on the run to Pouhon after running off-track at the exit of the preceding left-hander. However, didn’t set a time on the fastest compound of tyre.
Lance Stroll showed Racing Point had some pace, Spa has always been a great circuit for the team. He used the upgraded Mercedes engine to go seventh ahead of the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo by two tenths, with teammate Sergio Perez ninth.
It wasn’t a perfect session, the Canadian lost bodywork as his side pod came loose leaving the pit lane. All of the top ten and their teammates have taken the new power units given by there respective manufacturers. Nico Hulkenberg was eleventh fastest ahead of Lando Norris.
Doubts had surfaced about Kimi Raikkonen’s fitness coming into the weekend, so much so that Alfa Romeo reserve Marcus Ericsson is missing an IndyCar round to be in Belgium as cover, but the Finn completed twenty laps in first practice, finishing thirteenth.
He led all of Ferrari’s customer teams, Romain Grosjean fourteenth for Haas, teammate Antonio Giovinazzi, and Kevin Magnussen.
Daniil Kvyat led Pierre Gasly at Toro Rosso by three tenths, while Nicholas Latifi, stepping in for George Russell for P1 at Williams, was a tenth faster than Robert Kubica.