Lewis Hamilton took over at the top of the timesheets at Spa-Francorchamps, beating first practice pacesetter Kimi Räikkonen by almost three tenths of a second. Valtteri Bottas was third in a session disrupted late in the session.
The quickest times of the session arrived just after the half hour mark, when the teams bolted on ultrasoft tyres for qualifying simulations. Vettel was first to show, grabbing P1 with a lap of 1:45.235. However, that was swiftly eclipsed by Bottas, the Mercedes driver edging ahead with a time of 1m45.180s.
Raikkonen, who had used ultrasoft tyres to top the opening session ahead of s soft-shod Hamilton, then made his claim for a session double by putting in a lap of 1:45.015. Hamilton wasn’t to be beaten this time, however, and with the purple-banded Pirellis onboard he set a time of 1:44.753 to end the session 0.262s ahead of Räikkönen.
It looked by Vettel might eclipse his team-mate as he went for another quick lap and set the fastest first sector, but he couldn’t find enough time in the remaining two sectors and he was pushed out to fifth as Max Verstappen stole ahead by one hundredth of a second.
With the qualifying simulations complete, attention then switched to longer runs but with a little less than half and hour remaining rain began to fall across the circuit.
As the downpour intensified only Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso went out to test the conditions. Equipped with intermediate tyres they tiptoed around but soon returned to the pitlane and the session and all running stopped.
Ricciardo was sixth fastest in the session, 0.8s off team-mate Verstappen, while Nico Hulkenberg took seventh place for Renault ahead of Force India’s Esteban Ocon. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) and Hulkenberg’s teammate Jolyon Palmer completed the top 10.
2017 Belgian Grand Prix – Free Practice
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 17 1:44.753
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 21 1:45.015 0.262
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 17 1:45.180 0.427
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 16 1:45.225 0.472
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 20 1:45.235 0.482
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 15 1:46.072 1.319
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 24 1:46.441 1.688
8 Esteban Ocon Force India 19 1:46.473 1.720
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 19 1:46.561 1.808
10 Jolyon Palmer Renault 23 1:46.670 1.917
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren 20 1:46.743 1.990
12 Sergio Perez Force India 18 1:46.984 2.231
13 Romain Grosjean Haas 15 1:47.285 2.532
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 17 1:47.303 2.550
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 12 1:47.450 2.697
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas 15 1:47.556 2.803
17 Lance Stroll Williams 13 1:47.861 3.108
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 12 1:49.214 4.461
19 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 18 1:49.725 4.972