Belgian GP: Vettel leads the way as Ferrari dominate opening practice

Belgian GP: Vettel leads the way as Ferrari dominate opening practice”

Hamilton now leads the standings with 250 points, 62 ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas of Finland, and 69 ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen of the Netherlands.

Vettel's 1m44.574s, on soft tyres, was nearly a second quicker than Verstappen managed as Ferrari enjoyed a dominant start to the weekend.

Whereas Hamilton and Mercedes revelled in delivering a tactical master-class in Hungary, Ferrari have been once more left trailing and can pin their hopes on their better energy and straight-line pace paying off.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen finally has a home race to look forward to with the return of the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort on May 3 after an absence of 35 years.

Newly re-signed Valtteri Bottas was fifth as Lewis Hamilton endured a hard session blighted by an engine problem on his first lap out of the pits.

Plenty of attention was on Alex Albon for his first session since moving up from Toro Rosso and the signs are good with the Thai driver less than a tenth behind his new teammate in fourth.

After a period in the garage, a telemetry issue then stopped him posting a time before eventually, he got to work but struggled with the tyres to sit only sixth.

A freaky incident for Racing Point's Lance Stroll early on saw the right-hand part of the Canadian's engine cover blow off at the end of the Kemmel straight, leading to a brief Virtual Safety Car appearance.

The Canadian might be in some trouble, however, after one side of his engine cover disintegrated on the Kemmel Straight, requiring a Virtual Safety Car to clear the debris.

This as Renault and Racing Point run among the skinniest rear wings of the 10 teams.

Vettel and Hamilton have every recorded three earlier wins at Spa the place Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo has received 4 instances, the numerous present grid.

The Haas pair of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were 14th and 16th respectively, while Nicholas Latifi was almost 0.2s clear of Robert Kubica during his latest FP1 appearance, as Williams ended up over four seconds off the pace at the back of the field.

Behind Gasly, Williams test driver Nicholas Latifi outpaced Robert Kubica to win their private duel for 19th - Latifi, standing in for George Russell in FP1, outpaced the pole by 0.18s. Both Renaults and Sainz have five-place grid penalties for their new components.

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