Following his troublesome Hungarian Grand Prix where he caused a multi-car pile-up, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas started the opening practice for the Belgian Grand Prix in the best way by topping the session ahead of Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly.
When he was asked of how much time he needs to get up to speed after the summer break, McLaren driver Lando Norris said that he requires only „half a lap”. And indeed, it seemed that the field was able to find its rhythm following a three-week pause after the chaotic, but thrilling Hungarian Grand Prix.
The opening session for the Belgian Grand Prix started with some uncertainty as far as the weather was concerned. There were some damp patches at the beginning of the session, prompting drivers to head out on to the longest track of the season on intermediate tyres. As the track quickly dried up, the field quickly switched to slick tyres.
The first runs were completed on Pirelli’s Hard and Medium compounds. Hungaroring winner Esteban Ocon led the early part of the session with Sebastian Vettel and Carlos Sainz also popping up at the sharp end of the field. However, that lasted only until Red Bull’s Max Verstappen rolled out of his garage.
The Dutchman, who lost his comforting championship lead due to the overambitious Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, recorded some eye-catching lap times on the white-banded tyres.
After the first lap, the championship leading team Mercedes found itself in the second half of the standings. However, when the Brackley-based outfit sent its drivers out on the soft tyres, the pictures dramatically changed.
Bottas recorded a 1m45.199 with his low-downforce setup while his team mate Hamilton was on course to beat the Finn’s benchmark until he ran into traffic. The incident left Hamilton with only the 18th fastest lap time to contend with, but his speed was clear given the first and sector sector times.
With a spin at Turn 1 early in the session followed by a clip of the pit entrance wall halfway through, Kimi Raikkonen endured a messy session to finish 17th. His Alfa Romeo team mate Antonio Giovinazzi was up in 13th, however.
The Haas pair finished last in this session, Mick Schumacher – sporting a helmet in tribute to his father, who made his F1 debut here three decades ago – P19 ahead of team mate Nikita Mazepin in P20.
|2||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:45.363||+0.164s||14|
|3||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||1:45.699||+0.500s||20|
|6||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:46.127||+0.928s||17|
|7||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:46.177||+0.978s||19|
|8||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:46.336||+1.137s||17|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:46.497||+1.298s||16|
|10||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:46.612||+1.413s||16|
|11||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:46.649||+1.450s||19|
|12||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:46.683||+1.484s||20|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:46.755||+1.556s||17|
|14||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:46.772||+1.573s||19|
|15||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||1:46.928||+1.729s||19|
|16||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:47.101||+1.902s||20|
|17||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:48.125||+2.926s||15|
|19||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:48.705||+3.506s||16|
|20||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:49.059||+3.860s||15|