Belgian GP: Bottas fastest in opening Free Practice at Spa-Francorchamps

Valtteri Bottas was fastest during the opening Free Practice session of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

After a four-week summer break, Formula 1 is back for a triple header to tackle.

The first Free Practice (FP) session of the weekend would give drivers a chance to acclimatise with their racecraft since the eventful Hungarian GP.

A brief drizzle of rain preceded the session. This meant drivers were seeing out the conditions on intermediate tyres.

The track dried up soon afterwards, with Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, and Kimi Raikkonen moving to the slicks.

There were a few moments of near-misses and minor dramas, such as Yuki Tsunoda and Kimi Raikkonen each having a spin at the La Source hairpin.

Raikkonen also had contact with the inside barrier upon entering the pit lane; a minor instance but out of character from the four-time winner here.

Lance Stroll had a moment blocking William Racing’s George Russell through Eau Rouge and forcing the Williams man to get on the brakes.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Latifi nearly squeezed Lewis Hamilton off-track approaching the Bus Stop Chicane.

By the end of the hour-long running, Valtteri Bottas was fastest with a 1m45.199s ahead of Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly.

The two Ferrari drivers of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were behind, followed by Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez.

Sebastian Vettel finished in sixth in front of recent maiden F1 race winner Esteban Ocon.

His teammate Fernando Alonso recently confirmed his 2022 commitment with the team, and the Spaniard rounded out the top-10 order.

Lance Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo, and Antonio Giovinazzi finished 11th, 12th, and 13th.

Russell edged out Tsunoda and Latifi, whilst Raikkonen and Hamilton took 17th and 18th.

Haas’ two drivers were in the final two positions, Mazepin ahead of Schumacher.