Spa, FP1: Bottas quickest as F1 resumes at Spa-Francorchamps
Verstappen 2nd, Gasly 3rd
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.
|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|