Photo: FIA

Bottas Heads Opening Practice Session for Belgian GP


Valtteri Bottas went quickest in the opening Formula 1 practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix, narrowly beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.

Bottas set his best time of 1:44.493s on soft tires to eclipse championship leader Hamilton by 0.069 seconds. Verstappen got close to the Mercedes pair on the longest circuit on the calendar and the Dutchman ended the session with a best time of 1:44.574, just 0.081 off Hamilton’s P1 time.

Fourth and fifth places in the session went to Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll who continued the team’s traditional good form at Spa that stretches back to its previous incarnation as Force India. Pérez finished just five hundredths of a second behind Verstappen. Stroll, meanwhile, ended the session two tenths of a second behind his team-mate.

The two Racing Points were sandwiched by the Red Bulls, with Verstappen ahead and Alexander Albon in sixth place. The Thai driver set a best time of 1:45.049, just under half a second off his Dutch team-mate.

Behind the top six Renault’s Esteban Ocon was seventh ahead of the McLaren’s Carlose Sainz, with Daniel Ricciardo in the second Renault in ninth place ahead of the second McLaren of Lando Norris.

AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly were 11th and 12th respectively, though Gasly was left fuming over the radio during the session after coming across a slow Norris on track. Both AlphaTauris set their fastest times on the medium tire.

It was a muted session for Ferrari, however, with Charles Leclerc finishing in 14th place, 1.266s off the pace, while team-mate Sebastian Vettel was 15th and a further four tenths of a second behind.

There was greater trouble for other drivers, however, with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi all failing to set a time. Grosjean reported a loss of power on his Haas F1 car early in the session and the team then reported that Magnussen’s car also had an issue and both would be having an engine change before the second session. Alfa Romeo reported that Giovinazzi’s car had suffered a ‘technical issue’ that limited him to just two installation lap.

2020 FIA Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:44.493 18 241.302
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:44.562 0.069 17 241.143
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:44.574 0.081 20 241.115
4 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 1:44.629 0.136 22 240.988
5 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1:44.868 0.375 22 240.439
6 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1:45.049 0.556 22 240.025
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:45.099 0.606 20 239.910
8 Carlos Sainz McLaren/Renault 1:45.222 0.729 24 239.630
9 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:45.225 0.732 21 239.623
10 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1:45.274 0.781 28 239.512
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 1:45.447 0.954 25 239.119
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:45.503 1.010 17 238.992
13 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:45.704 1.211 19 238.537
14 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:45.759 1.266 18 238.413
15 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:46.179 1.686 15 237.470
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:46.488 1.995 19 236.781
17 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:46.570 2.077 21 236.599
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1
19 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 2
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 2

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