Raikkonen drove his SF71H to the top of the sheets through the forests of the Ardennes in Belgium. Hamilton and Bottas slotted in behind, with Vettel in fourth.
The clouded, but otherwise dry session started off with quite a few drivers ready to go out. Others were less keen to go out, notably Alonso who did not drive in the first session. Meanwhile Ricciardo was hell bent on recuperated the lost time he suffered during the first session.
Raikkonen set an early fast lap which already roughly matched last year’s FP2. Hamilton soon jumped over that time with the medium tyres, indicating that although Mercedes is less able to extract performance from the softer tyre, they are in turn to be able to extract more performance from the harder tyre. Hamilton would almost improve on that lap, but messed it up in the final chicane.
Meanwhile Vandoorne still looks to be sidelined. The McLaren driver is already facing uncertainty about his future at McLaren, him not being able to prove himself on the track certainly does not help his cause. Verstappen just like Raikkonen does a run on softs, but has to give in a full second on Hamilton’s time.
After the first third of the session, drivers switched to their qualification simulation, the first indication of the true ultimate pace we’ll see tomorrow. Raikkonen is the first to do so, and sets a time 1 second faster than Hamilton’s time on the mediums. Meanwhile Vettel abandons his first timed lap. Hamilton loses out a bit in the first sector, makes it up the second sector but loses out again in the third sector, ultimately being 0.15s off Raikkonen’s time in part because he also made an error in the last sector. Bottas slots at 0.5s behind Raikkonen. Due Vettel not immediately able to set a super soft time, Ricciardo is able to climb in front of him. Vettel manages ultimately to put in a super soft time, albeit only good for fourth. As expected, Ferrari and Mercedes look to be in their own competition.
Meanwhile it is clear Honda still has a lot of work to do. Toro Rosso’s Gasly is a full second behind after the first sector, being a largely power dominated sector. He ultimately is 2.8s behind on ultimately pace. McLaren due their problems had little track time, being the last ones to switch to the super softs. The McLaren seems quite weak around here, with Alonso topping out on 305km/h. Topping out at this speed could indicate the power unit is derating or otherwise having to heavily spread the energy across the lap, with energy recovery not sufficient through the few corners that aren’t taken flat out. Ultimately he and Vandoorne hang around at the bottom of the time sheets, with Vandoorne being 4 tenths further off the pace from Alonso in 16th. Perez on the other hand was able to do an outstanding job with his Force India, setting a time only 1.3s off Raikkonen, setting him on an island between Red Bull and all the other drivers. In fact everyone behind Perez is at least 2s adrift the top time.
With qualification runs now over, everybody switches back to the various medium, soft and super soft long runs. Hamilton flat spots during his super soft run, having to come in for a different set. Raikkonen meanwhile has a small off track excursion, and putting some small amounts of dirt on the track to help out his fellow drivers. The long runs seem to suit Ferrari a bit better on the supersoft, while Mercedes feels much more at ease on the medium tyres. Concerning lap times everything stays static, with Raikkonen in front of Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Vettel and Ricciardo concerning the top 6. Ferrari looks to have a slight ultimate pace advantage, with Mercedes looking to have better pace on the slower tyres.
|4||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer||1:44.046||+0.691s||25|
|6||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer||1:44.250||+0.895s||31|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1:44.662||+1.307s||27|
|9||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1:45.537||+2.182s||24|
|10||16||Charles Leclerc||Sauber Ferrari||1:45.622||+2.267s||25|
|12||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:45.817||+2.462s||29|
|13||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||1:45.935||+2.580s||24|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:46.078||+2.723s||29|
|15||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||1:46.080||+2.725s||33|
|16||14||Fernando Alonso||Mclaren Renault||1:46.153||+2.798s||28|
|17||28||Brendon Hartley||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||1:46.337||+2.982s||35|
|18||35||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Mercedes||1:46.451||+3.096s||35|
|19||18||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||1:46.470||+3.115s||34|
|20||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||Mclaren Renault||1:46.496||+3.141s||25|