Bottas quickest as F1 gets back on track at Spa

Bottas quickest as F1 gets back on track at Spa

After its traditional summer break Formula 1 returned to action at Spa-Francorchamps this morning, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas quickest in the opening practice session for the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix. The Finn set beat title hopeful Max Verstappen by just under two tenths of a second as championship leader Lewis Hamilton finished in 18th place.


The one-hour session got off to a slow start as rain the hours preceding the start of running meant that the track was still damp and teams opted to wait out the opening minutes as the track began to dry.


A number of drivers took the track on intermediates, but after 10 minutes it became clear that dry weather tyres were necessary. McLaren’s Lando Norris led the way on me3dium tyres but the Briton was soon eclipsed by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and then by Daniel Riccardo in the second McLaren, Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri and then by Hungary race winner Esteban Ocon who put his Alpine in P1.


Verstappen then emerged in hard tyres and promptly bounced the French driver out of top sport with a lap of 1:46.879s. Over the course of a long run he then whittled the benchmark down to 1:45.905 before teams began to make a switch to soft tyres.


As the session entered its final quarter Bottas jumped P1 with a softy-tyre lap of 1:45.199s. Hamilton though was struggling with a larger wing than his team-mate and the Briton complained that he had poor straightline speed.


However, despite his difficulties, Hamilton looked set to edge past his team-mate on soft tyres but unfortunately he was slowed when he came across Williams’ Nicholas Latifi at the Bus Stop chicane and his run was compromised.


Verstappen then also moved to soft tyres in the final phase of the session but he failed to dislodge Bottas and had to settle for second place, 0.164 behind the Mercedes man.


Drizzle was now beginning to fall and that meant little hope of late improvement. Hamilton therefore was left languishing in P18 on the timesheet.


AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took third place at the flag ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque driver’s team-mate Carlos Sainz finished fifth, while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was sixth ahead of Vettel and Norris, with Ocon and his Alpine team-mate Fernando Alonso rounding out the top 10.

2021 FIA Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:45.199 18 239.682
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:45.363 0.164 14 239.309
3 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:45.699 0.500 20 238.549
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:45.818 0.619 19 238.280
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:45.935 0.736 20 238.017
6 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 1:46.127 0.928 17 237.587
7 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:46.177 0.978 19 237.475
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:46.336 1.137 17 237.120
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:46.497 1.298 16 236.761
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:46.612 1.413 16 236.506
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:46.649 1.450 19 236.424
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:46.683 1.484 20 236.348
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:46.755 1.556 17 236.189
14 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:46.772 1.573 19 236.151
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 1:46.928 1.729 19 235.807
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:47.101 1.902 20 235.426
17 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:48.125 2.926 15 233.196
18 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:48.224 3.025 17 232.983
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 1:48.705 3.506 16 231.952
20 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:49.059 3.860 15 231.199
 


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