Spa, FP1: Bottas quickest as F1 resumes at Spa-Francorchamps

Verstappen 2nd, Gasly 3rd

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By Olivier Ferret

27 August 2021 - 12:39
Spa, FP1: Bottas quickest as F1 (...)

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.

Pos.DriverCarTimeLaps
01 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 1:45.199 18
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:45.363 14
03 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:45.699 20
04 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 1:45.818 19
05 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 1:45.935 20
06 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:46.127 17
07 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:46.177 19
08 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:46.336 17
09 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A521 1:46.497 16
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 1:46.612 16
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:46.649 19
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:46.683 20
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:46.755 17
14 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:46.772 19
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:46.928 19
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:47.101 20
17 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:48.125 15
18 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 1:48.224 17
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:48.705 16
20 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:49.059 15

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