Valtteri Bottas snatched the top spot in first practice for the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, but he was closely matched by Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
The teams did a lot of running in the first practice session of the weekend, with rain expected later on Friday and into Saturday, and Bottas ended the morning fastest with a best time of 1m44.493s.
But, while a Mercedes at the top of the timesheet is not unusual, it is clear that it is going to be a close weekend, with the top four cars separated by only 0.136s.
Hamilton was Bottas’ closest challenger in second while the Red Bull of Verstappen was third fastest, just 0.081s slower than the pacesetting time.
But, while Mercedes and Red Bull look to be ever competitive, the same could not be said for Ferrari, who had a dismal start to their weekend.
Ferrari always knew that they were going to struggle around Spa, with the high speed nature of the circuit more suited to Mercedes powered cars, but Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel ended up down in 14th and 15th respectively, over a second down on the time set by Bottas and a lot further back than they would have expected.
As predicted, Racing Point were strong around the power focused Spa Francorchamps circuit and ended up fourth and fifth, while Verstappen’s team-mate Alex Albon was sixth, half a second off the fastest time.
Renault and McLaren both seemed to be closely matched, with Esteban Ocon securing seventh, ahead of Carlos Sainz, while Daniel Ricciardo was just 0.049s ahead of the second McLaren of Lando Norris in 10th.
Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly were 11th and 12th fastest, but their times were impressive given that they were only two tenths slower than Norris despite setting their best times on the harder medium compound tyres.
Kimi Raikkonen also had a strong start to the weekend around his favoured circuit, ending the session as the fastest Ferrari powered car.
The Finn ended up 13th fastest, 0.055s quicker than Leclerc’s Ferrari.
Haas had a horrible start to their Belgian Grand Prix weekend, with both cars failing to set a time in the session.
Both cars suffered engine related issues, although they were two separate problems, and the team had to change their power units in order to try and resolve the issues.
Antonio Giovinazzi was the only other car not to set a laptime, with the Italian suffering a technical issue at the start of the session.
Friday Free Practice 1 Results
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0.081|
|4||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+0.136|
|5||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+0.375|
|6||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+0.556|
|13||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+1.211|
|18||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||No Time|
|19||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||No Time|
|20||Romain Grosjean||Haas||No Time|