Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel started the second half of the 2018 Formula 1 season topping the first practice session in the Belgian GP from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel clocked a time of 1m44.358s beating Verstappen’s 1m44.509s with Hamilton in third with a 1m44.676s time. All the Top 3 drivers set their quickest times on the soft tyres with Hamilton also using medium compound in the session.
The British driver has the new spec power unit attached to his car along with Valtteri Bottas and also the Racing Point Force India and Williams drivers for the weekend. Behind the Top 3, it was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in fourth with a 1m44.718s – also on soft tyres.
Bottas along with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo were only the two drivers from the big three to use the supersoft tyres in the session. The latter faced a power unit issue after his installation lap and was forced to miss much of the session.
The team managed to fix it and send him out for him to complete one flying lap as he finished sixth with a 1m45.558s lap time. Meanwhile, Bottas (1m44.724s) finished fifth in the order as he focused on long runs with a penalty looming for the Finn.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon ended up as the best of the rest in seventh with a 1m45.786s to finish ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg (1m45.951s). The Top 10 was completed by Force India’s Sergio Perez (1m46.169s) and Renault’s Carlos Sainz (1m46.210s).
Like Bottas, even Hulkenberg will receive a penalty for parts change. Meanwhile Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly (1m46.300s) finished just outside the Top 10 in 11th using the soft tyres with Haas’s Romain Grosjean (1m46.387s) behind.
The two Saubers did well with Charles Leclerc (1m46.554s) in 13th and Marcus Ericsson (1m46.557s) 14th from Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley (1m46.932s) and Williams’ Lance Stroll (1m46.965s), with the Kiwi also using only soft tyres like Gasly.
A disappointing session for Haas saw Kevin Magnussen (1m47.012s) only 17th from McLaren’s reserve Lando Norris (1m47.364s), Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin (1m47.367s) and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne (1m47.452s) – the latter enduring brake issues.