The five team world champion didn’t wait to show his potential, as he led the field in FP1. Hamilton took his time before pushing hard, reaching his best lap after ten laps on softest tyres. Second was Sebastian Vettel on his Ferrari, just a tenth of a second behind with 1:04.982 on a possibly good track for the Scuderia. Third was Valtteri Bottas as he stopped the clock in 1:04.999.
The session started with Max Verstappen first to hit the track for a shakedown, in front of his team home crowd. First time was McLaren’s Carlos Sainz with 1:14.185, immediately beaten by Pierre Gasly’s Red Bull with 1:08.299 and then 1:07.285. Vettel’s first lap is 1:07.780, as top teams move to the track. Just to have a reference, last year’s Valtteri Bottas pole position was 1:03.130.
Pirelli took here same compounds of last weekend in France, with C2 hard, C3 medium and C4 soft.
The morning was 27°C, so it’s gonna be interesting to see if the hot weather of the weekend will be an issue for the tyres, especially on Sunday.
Just after the first half an hour, Verstappen went back on top with a 1:05.488 with yellows C3 compounds. Just behind him the two Mercedes and Gasly, half a second slower than the Dutchman. Not much track action during the first half of the session, then Leclerc had the best lap at the moment on 1.05.141 with fresh medium tyres.
But 20 minutes to go Hamilton went finally fastest with 1:04.838. The Mercedes driver had 33 laps this morning as he completed more than ten in his run for the best lap.
In the last few minutes there were no news on lap times but a radio warning from Max Verstappen as the Dutch referred problems in the straight, as he felt not to have enough speed.
Four minutes to go and the session was stopped after Nico Hulkenberg broke the left side of his front wing on a yellow sausage. Kerbs and track limits will certainly be a hot topic during the weekend. Red flag was due to a lot of debris on track, so the stop was necessary to clean up. Session was restarted for practice starts only.