Despite a week away from race action, the pecking order seems to be unchanged at Spa with Mercedes securing another one-two in the opening practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix.
The first minutes of the session passed without track action as drivers stayed in the garages. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc became the first driver to post a timed lap around the 7.004km track. Last year's race winner at Spa used Pirelli's White Hard compound to register the first lap on the timing board with a time of 1m47.033.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen quickly joined the track action on the same compound as Leclerc. The Dutchman was quite aggressive with his lively and nervous RB16, but quickly took over the lead, posting a time of 1m45.886. The nine-time race winner improved his lap time to a 1m45.470 on his next flying lap.
Mercedes drivers did not feel great at the beginning of their first stint, complaining about balance issues. However, Lewis Hamilton set a 1:45.298 on Pirelli's medium compound that was enough to put himself to the top of the timing sheet after the first 40 minutes of the session.
In the meantime, Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen and Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi encountered technical issues. This meant that the trio driving Ferrari-powered cars was unable to set a timed lap following their installation laps. Haas has since confirmed that the problems were related to the Ferrari power unit.
Following the brief pause, McLaren sent out their drivers on a fresh set of soft compound. Lando Norris took over the lead with a time of 1:45.274, but he was quickly beaten by his team mate Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard was 52 thousands of a second faster than his British team mate despite slight issues to his DRS.
When Mercedes turned up with their soft compound tyres, they quickly showed again how dominant they are this season. Bottas set a 1m44.493 to top the session ahead of his team mate Hamilton who was just 0.069s slower than the Finn. Max Verstappen set the best time in the second sector and finished the session third fastest, only 0.081s behind Bottas.
Despite having no apparent issues with their cars, Ferrari drivers were slow on their second set of fresh tyres. Leclerc and Vettel ended the first practice at Spa down in 14th and 15th spot.
Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Räikkönen finished in front of the Scuderia duo which indicates that Leclerc and Vettel might up their pace later on during the weekend.
|3||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:44.574||+0.081s||20|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||1:44.629||+0.136s||22|
|5||18||Lance Stroll||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||1:44.868||+0.375s||22|
|6||23||Alexander Albon||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:45.049||+0.556s||22|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz||MCLAREN RENAULT||1:45.222||+0.729s||24|
|10||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN RENAULT||1:45.274||+0.781s||28|
|11||26||Daniil Kvyat||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:45.447||+0.954s||25|
|12||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:45.503||+1.010s||17|
|13||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:45.704||+1.211s||19|
|16||6||Nicholas Latifi||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:46.488||+1.995s||19|
|17||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:46.570||+2.077s||21|
|18||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||-||-||1|
|19||8||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||-||-||2|
|20||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||-||-||2|