FP1: Bottas tops opening practice at Spa

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit de Spa-Francorchampsbe

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.

177Valtteri BottasMercedes1:45.19918
233Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:45.363+0.164s14
310Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Honda1:45.699+0.500s20
416Charles LeclercFerrari1:45.818+0.619s19
555Carlos SainzFerrari1:45.935+0.736s20
611Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda1:46.127+0.928s17
75Sebastian VettelAston Martin Mercedes1:46.177+0.978s19
84Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:46.336+1.137s17
931Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:46.497+1.298s16
1014Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:46.612+1.413s16
1118Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes1:46.649+1.450s19
123Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:46.683+1.484s20
1399Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:46.755+1.556s17
1463George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:46.772+1.573s19
1522Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda1:46.928+1.729s19
166Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:47.101+1.902s20
177Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:48.125+2.926s15
1844Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:48.224+3.025s17
199Nikita MazepinHaas Ferrari1:48.705+3.506s16
2047Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:49.059+3.860s15