SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 24: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 24, 2018 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Sebastian Vettel and the Scuderia Ferrari started the second-half of the season with a solid performance at the Belgian Grand Prix. The German champion led the way in FP1, while his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, dominated FP2 with the fastest lap of the day.

Belgian GP – Takeaways from Friday Practice

Both free practice sessions started under dry conditions. A possible rain shower looked imminent during the First Practice session (FP1). Some drivers informed their teams about some raindrops in the 7.004 km long circuit in the morning session. The Pirelli tire choice for this race is the white-striped medium tire, yellow-striped soft tire, and the red-striped supersoft tire.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel led the way in the first practice session with a 1:44.358s lap time. Then Kimi Raikkonen controlled FP2 with a 1.43.355s, 0.168s faster than MercedesLewis Hamilton.

The main takeaways from the two practice sessions were:

  • Ferrari looks all-set to start the second part of the season. Mercedes had a quiet FP1 with Hamilton, the championship leader, in third place and Valtteri Bottas, who will start from the back of the field after a penalty due to exceeding Power Unit elements, in fifth.
  • Max Verstappen was Red Bull’s best driver in FP1 and went second fastest, 0.151s behind Vettel’s lap time.
  • Mercedes’ drivers, Bottas and Hamilton, worked the most part of FP1 on the medium tire.
  • The gap between the fastest lap in FP1 and the sixth-placed car was a stunning 1.2s.
  • Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo managed to perform only one flying lap after his car allegedly suffered from electrical issues during FP1. The Australian racer finished sixth in FP2 also but improved his lap time.
  • Ferrari led both Friday practice sessions of a Grand Prix weekend for the first time in 2018 and the first since last year’s Russian GP.
  • Force India started its new era with a good result in FP1 after Frenchman Esteban Ocon took seventh place. Sergio Pérez dominated the midfield with a seventh place in FP2.
  • McLaren’s Lando Norris drove Fernando Alonso’s car in FP1 and positioned himself in the 18th spot.
  • Stoffel Vandoorne finished in last place in both sessions, as his McLaren did not show any signs of improvement.

The Last Word

Ferrari and Mercedes look set, again, to fight a close battle from lights out to the chequered flag at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Red Bull seems to be a step behind the top two teams, while Racing Point Force India looks dominating in the mid-field.

Results of FP1:

POS NO DRIVER CAR TIME GAP LAPS
1 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:44.358 19
2 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:44.509 +0.151s 20
3 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:44.676 +0.318s 22
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:44.718 +0.360s 17
5 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:44.724 +0.366s 25
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:45.558 +1.200s 4
7 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:45.786 +1.428s 22
8 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:45.951 +1.593s 19
9 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:46.169 +1.811s 21
10 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:46.210 +1.852s 19
11 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:46.300 +1.942s 25
12 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:46.387 +2.029s 20
13 16 Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 1:46.554 +2.196s 20
14 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:46.557 +2.199s 19
15 28 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:46.932 +2.574s 23
16 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:46.965 +2.607s 25
17 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:47.012 +2.654s 21
18 47 Lando Norris MCLAREN RENAULT 1:47.364 +3.006s 26
19 35 Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:47.367 +3.009s 23
20 2 Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:47.452 +3.094s 13

Results of FP2:

POS NO DRIVER CAR TIME GAP LAPS
1 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:43.355 29
2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:43.523 +0.168s 28
3 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:43.803 +0.448s 29
4 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:44.046 +0.691s 25
5 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:44.129 +0.774s 31
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:44.250 +0.895s 31
7 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:44.662 +1.307s 27
8 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:45.481 +2.126s 29
9 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:45.537 +2.182s 24
10 16 Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 1:45.622 +2.267s 25
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:45.753 +2.398s 28
12 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:45.817 +2.462s 29
13 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:45.935 +2.580s 24
14 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:46.078 +2.723s 29
15 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:46.080 +2.725s 33
16 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1:46.153 +2.798s 28
17 28 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:46.337 +2.982s 35
18 35 Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:46.451 +3.096s 35
19 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:46.470 +3.115s 34
20 2 Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:46.496 +3.141s 25

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