F1 Belgium: Raikkonen Kicks Off Spa Weekend Fastest in FP1

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari‘s Kimi Raikkonen kicked off the second half of the season with the fastest time of first Free Practice Session at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday morning.

Raikkonen, arriving in Belgium with a contract extension that sees him remain with Ferrari for the 2018 season, set the fastest time with a 1:45.502 on the Ultrasoft Pirelli tyres but Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Lewis Hamilton was close behind with a 1:45.555 on the Soft compound tyres around Spa-Francorchamps.

Hamilton led majority of the session with Red Bull Racing‘s Daniel Ricciardo trading places with the Brit before Raikkonen set his fastest time towards the end of the session.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel set the third fastest time of the session with a 1:45.647 ahead of Max Verstappen, while Ricciardo ultimately finished fifth behind his team-mate.

Valtteri Bottas was sixth fastest in the session but the Finnish driver made an error where he tried to make way for one of the McLaren drivers, going off at the exit of the turn 11/12 chicane before Stavelot, touching the barrier and causing damage to his front wing. However, Bottas managed to continue and return back to the pits for repairs.

The Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers’ enjoyed a positive session with Carlos Sainz Jr. setting the seventh fastest time with a 1:47.446 and completing 22 laps, while Daniil Kvyat was ninth fastest, although the Russian reported problems traffic during later runs.

Esteban Ocon completed the most laps of the session with a total of twenty-seven in the session, with the French driver splitting the Toro Rosso drivers in eighth place overall with a time of 1:47.670, while his Sahara Force India F1 Team team-mate Sergio Perez was down the pecking order in fourteen place with a 1:48.452.

McLaren Honda F1 Team‘s Stoffel Vandoorne rounded out the top ten in front of his home crowd with a 1:47.865, although there was more reliability issues for his team-mate Fernando Alonso, who suffered trouble within five minutes of the session with apparent engine related issues.

The Spaniard reported back into the pits for repairs but soon returned to the track, but trouble struck again with a failure to his Drag Reduction System (DRS)This issue also eventually cleared, and Alonso ended up setting the thirteenth fastest time with a 1:48.252.

The two Renault Sport Formula 1 Team drivers split the McLaren’s with Jolyon Palmer finished ahead of Nico Hulkenberg with a 1:47.930 compared to the German driver’s 1:48.037.

Williams Martini Racing‘s Felipe Massa lasted only sixteen minutes in the session after the veteran Brazilian suffered a moment of oversteer at Turn 10, which he attempted to correct but ended up crashing heavily into the barriers before he was able to set a timed lap.

This meant Lance Stroll ended the session as the only Williams’ driver to complete timed laps, with the Canadian ended up fifteenth fastest time with a best time 1:48.541, although the eighteen-year-old reported in at the dying moments of the session possible issues with his brake pedal.

Kevin Magnussen suffered a loose headrest issue early in the session, with the issue coming as the Dane left the pits when the session restarted after Massa’s crash.  He quickly returned to the pits to have the problem sorted out before finishing the session sixteenth fastest ahead of Haas F1 Team team-mate Romain Grosjean.

Marcus Ericsson ended the first practice session ahead of team-mate Pascal Wehrlein with a 1:50.160 compared to the German’s 1:51.263 which was the slowest time of the session, more than five seconds slower than Raikkonen’s time.

Three drivers tested the Halo cockpit protection system early in the session, with Hamilton, Vandoorne and Ericsson each completing an installation lap with the device, which is being introduced to Formula 1 in 2018, before starting their planned practice programmes.

Spa-Francorchamps Free Practice 1 Result

17Kimi RaikkonnenScuderia Ferrari1:45.50213
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:45.5550.05319
35Sebastian VettelScuderia Ferrari1:45.6470.14513
433Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing1:46.3020.80018
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing1:46.3520.85022
677Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:46.4240.92220
755Carlos Sainz JrScuderia Toro Rosso1:47.4461.94422
831Esteban OconSahara Force India F1 Team1:47.6702.16827
926Daniil KvyatScuderia Toro Rosso1:47.8512.34920
102Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda Formula 1 Team1:47.8652.36918
1130Jolyon PalmerRenault Sport Formula One Team1:47.9302.24814
1227Nico HulkenbergRenault Sport Formula One Team1:48.0372.53515
1314Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda Formula 1 Team1:48.2522.75018
1411Sergio PerezSahara Force India F1 Team1:48.4522.95019
1518Lance StrollWilliams Martini Racing1:48.5413.03924
1620Kevin MagnussenHaas-F1 Team1:48.6153.11320
178Romain GrosjeanHaas-F1 Team1:48.6263.12420
189Marcus EricssonSauber F1 Team1:50.1604.65824
1994Pascal WehrleinSauber F1 Team1:50.2635.76113
2019Felipe MassaWilliams Martini Racing3