The Friday in F1 Belgian GP was pretty greasy all-through but Red Bull seemingly had the pace advantage over Ferrari, with Mercedes behind.
The weather conditions remained cool and even damp to a certain extent on Friday in F1 Belgian GP but drivers did get some dry running crucially. Red Bull seemed to have the pace advantage over Ferrari, but both teams have taken new elements.
While the Ferrari pair showed some pace in FP1, Verstappen bounced back well in FP2 to take a good lead over them. The Dutchman too has a penalty along with Charles Leclerc, while their teammates are in a good place for the time being.
Sergio Perez looked a bit down but his pace was hampered by hydraulics issue in FP2. The F1 team which looked out of place was Mercedes, who seemed to struggle a bit more where they seem to be in the fight against McLaren and even Aston Martin.
Verstappen: “I think as soon as we went out, the car was working pretty well. There’s always little things that you want to fine-tune with the balance, but basically from the first run I was happy with the car. From the laps we did, the car was working well, so that’s a positive. Obviously I would have liked to run a little bit more, [like] everyone else, but so far it’s been a good start. With the penalty, that’s what we’ll try is to move up. We have to.”
Leclerc: “Overall, it wasn’t too bad of a day. I mean of course we tested quite a bit of things, I think everybody was on a very different programme, so very different to compare on this first day coming back from the holidays, but overall, the feeling was quite okay. Low-fuel pace seems to be poor but the high fuel seems to be quite okay, so let us wait and see. We will keep working, try to do a step during the night and try to comeback stronger tomorrow. Well, let’s say we did not put as much as attention as we normally do for the qualifying pace because it would be a little bit useless so yeah, more attention to the race pace to try and come back at the front as quickly as possible.”
Hamilton: “We are just not very quick. I don’t know why. I mean we are going out and giving it everything we’ve got. It could be tyres, could be tyre temps, it could be wing levels, it could be a multitude of things. It doesn’t feel disastrous out there, it’s just that we are a long way off. We often find this on a Friday and things change a bit more on a Saturday, so I hope that’s the case. We’ve just got to work hard tonight to analyse the data, try and figure out where we can get with this car. It doesn’t feel the same as it did… at the last track, like in qualifying kind of time. But on Friday and Saturday morning it feels sort of similar to that now, so it gives me hope that we can turn it around.”
Norris: “A reasonable first day back and it was good to get back out there. There are a few different parts on the car this weekend, so I think just understanding those and understanding the lower downforce configuration was good. Obviously having the power unit grid penalties this weekend, we were trying to focus more on the race, rather than qualifying. Today was more about optimisation, which hopefully will pay off more come Sunday but overall, a fairly good day.”
Stroll: “It felt good out there today and the lap-times looked good as well. We tried all the tyre compounds, and the performance felt decent across all three. We do not know what the weather will bring tomorrow, so it is really tricky to figure out where we will be when qualifying comes around, but I am hopeful we will be in the mix for some good points this weekend.”
Apart from McLaren and Aston Martin, who found itself in a good place in the Top 10, Alpine too made it in the Top 10 while Williams seems to be in a good place too just outside it. The AlphaTauri pair had decent pace but not enough to make the cut.
The team did run Liam Lawson in FP1, as Pierre Gasly played catch up then. Alfa Romeo pair were divided where Zhou Guanyu did well, but Valtteri Bottas once again missed track time. Even Haas faced difficulties, especially on Kevin Magnussen’s side.
Alonso: “Firstly, it’s good to be back! Driving Formula 1 cars in Spa-Francorchamps always gives you adrenaline, so it was a fun Friday. The circuit changes are not too different to before, just with the safer run-off areas. We didn’t have stable weather conditions to test the tyres, so we still have a couple of things to assess tomorrow in Free Practice 3. The car feels quite good to drive here, so hopefully we should be in for another competitive weekend.”
Albon: “The new track changes and tarmac is helping us by giving a little bit more grip. I think we’re in a good place. Balance wise we’re more or less there. Still a bit of work to do for tomorrow but for a Friday it’s been pretty good.”
Bottas: “I was satisfied with the balance of the car, even though we obviously missed out on a session and we had to play catch-up in the rest of the day. The main limitation today was the grip levels, especially when I switched to the hard tyres, which are a big step from the soft: it’s nothing to worry about, though, I fully expect to figure it out tomorrow with a few more laps. We had a hydraulic leak in the first session and rain compromised the running towards the end of FP2, so hopefully we can get a bit more track time in the final practice session. We need a clean day to finish what we couldn’t do today.”
Magnussen: “We had an issue and had to stop but we changed it for FP2 and had no further issues. I got a bit of running in FP1 so didn’t lose out too much and then it started raining so it’s fine. FP2 was ok in low-fuel but I didn’t really get any running on high-fuel because it started raining just enough to make it irrelevant, so we still have some question marks on high-fuel. The car felt ok on quali runs and we just need to as always find a bit more pace and work on things tonight.”
Lawson: “I’ve enjoyed getting to drive the car around such an iconic track, it’s been a crazy experience. The car was great to drive, the limit is so much further than I was ready for, it took a bit of time to get used to that, but I think I built up the pace steadily on the Hards and was ready to push on the Softs at the end, so it’s a bit of a shame I didn’t get the opportunity to really go for it. I want to say a big thank you to Scuderia AlphaTauri and Red Bull for giving me this opportunity. It’s been really cool spending the weekend with the team, it’s a crazy step up from F2. There’s so many more people than I’m used to, but having this opportunity is really great for us young drivers so we can understand what it’s like in an F1 team and learn as much as we can. I’ve loved every second of today and am extremely appreciative for this opportunity.”
Here’s how FP1 of F1 Belgian GP panned out
Here’s how FP2 of F1 Belgian GP panned out