Kimi Räikkönen led a Ferrari 1-2 in final practice at the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix ahead of teammate and current championship leader Sebastian Vettel. The four-time winner at Spa-Francorchamps broke the Formula 1 lap record around the seven-kilometre circuit in an ominous display of pace.
With the circuit drying after morning rain showers, the field briefly ran their installation laps on Intermediate tyres before beginning to finalise their set-ups in earnest ahead of this afternoon’s all-important qualifying session.
Ferrari and Mercedes once again proved to be closely matched on the stopwatch, with both teams swapping fastest lap times on the Ultra Soft compound during their qualifying-style runs.
Ultimately it was Räikkönen, who was quickest in Friday’s morning practice session, who went quickest with a rapid 1:43.916 effort to shatter Jarno Trulli’s record time of 1:44.503 that had stood since 2009. Teammate Vettel made it a 1-2 on the timesheets, a couple of tenths of a second adrift and just 0.001 seconds faster than his chief championship rival Lewis Hamilton.
Behind the top three, there was a considerable gap to the Red Bull Racing duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo who lapped fourth- and sixth-fastest, albeit over a second off Räikkönen’s ultimate pace. The pair was split by Valtteri Bottas, who had an uncharacteristically scrappy session in the second Mercedes and could not string together a representative lap time.
Jolyon Palmer lapped seventh-quickest in an encouraging demonstration as he fights to retain his seat at Renault; the Englishman was over 0.4 seconds quicker than teammate Nico Hülkenberg, who was eleventh-fastest.
Eighth-fastest was Force India’s Sergio Pérez, who posted the fastest split time in the first sector of the lap where straight-line speed is key. His VJM10 was clearly carrying little in the way of rear downforce, as evidenced by his much poorer sector split times over the remainder of the lap. The Mexican’s teammate Esteban Ocon was twelfth-fastest, slipping down the order late in the session as a number of other runners bettered the Frenchman’s early lap time.
The top-ten positions were completed by the Spanish pairing of Carlos Sainz Jr and Fernando Alonso.
Behind Hülkenberg and Ocon, Haas’ Romain Grosjean showed an improved turn of speed in the Ferrari-powered VF-17 but once again complained about braking stability as he suffered a number of front lock-ups during the session.
Local driver Stoffel Vandoorne finished fourteenth-fastest in his McLaren-Honda. The Belgian’s original 40-place grid penalty has now increased to a whopping 65-place grid drop following further power unit changes.
Williams looks set to struggle this weekend as evidenced by Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa’s lowly positions on the timesheets in fifteenth and sixteenth respectively. Stroll briefly ran as high as seventh-fastest thanks to an Ultra Soft tyre run, but the Canadian teenager fell down the order in the final minutes.
His teammate Felipe Massa turned his first laps in anger this weekend after being forced to sit out Friday’s action thanks to his heavy crash early on in FP1. The Brazilian has also been summoned to the stewards for failing to slow sufficiently when double yellow flags were being waved while Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso was being pulled behind the barriers after the Russian’s car suffered a terminal failure and a small fire on the Kemmel Straight.
Sauber finished at the foot of the timesheets behind Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and the aforementioned Kvyat, with Pascal Wehrlein outpacing Marcus Ericsson this time around. Ericsson only emerged on track in the dying minutes, losing much of the session while his mechanics reassembled his car after a technical issue was encountered during his installation lap.
Saturday’s qualifying session at Spa will begin at 14:00 local time (GMT +2).
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Tyre||Laps|
|1.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:43.916||17|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:44.113||15|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:44.114||11|
|4.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:45.034||13|
|5.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:45.230||18|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:45.286||18|
|7.||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:45.491||11|
|8.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:45.857||14|
|9.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:45.942||18|
|10.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:46.060||12|
|11.||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:46.064||11|
|12.||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:46.179||14|
|13.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:46.196||14|
|14.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:46.300||14|
|15.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:46.620||18|
|16.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:46.667||22|
|17.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:46.690||13|
|18.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:47.903||7|
|19.||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:48.296||17|
|20.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:48.300||6|
Image via Scuderia Ferrari