The first free practice session of the Belgian GP has ended with Valtteri Bottas setting the fastest time, with 1.44.493s. On the second place we had Lewis Hamilton with 1.44.562s and Max Verstappen on 3rd with 1.44.574s. The rest who completed the top 10 of the session were: Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll, Alex Albon, Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris on P10.
Before the racing weekend began, we could see many pictures posted around social media that commemorated Anthoine Hubert, who sadly passed away as a result of a horrific crash during the F2 2019 race. Juan Manuel Correa, who was also involved in the crash last year and is still fighting his way back is present on track this weekend. Many drivers left flowers and visited the place of the crash, and drivers such as Pierre Gasly (who was a great friend of Hubert) said they will drive for Anthoine this weekend, and dedicated a helmet to him. Unfortunately, situations like this remind us not only about the danger of the sport, but also the dark past of Spa - Francorchamps.
The Belgian GP is the opener for another triple header of the 2020 calendar. The weather conditions for the beginning of the sessions were dry, yet pretty cold (15C air temperature), with a possibility of rain later during the day, as well as possibility of rain during Saturday and Sunday. There is (as of now) 48% chance of rain during the GP on Sunday. This might have an impact when it comes to the qualifying session tomorrow, yet there is still a high possibility there will be no rain whatsoever. Spa - Francorchamps is known for the unpredictable conditions.
In the very first minutes of the FP1, most of the drivers got out of the pits right away. The Red Bull car of Alex Albon had the aero fences on, and additionally after the first lap his front wing got swapped.
The first driver to set a time during the FP1 was Charles Leclerc, with a 1.47.152s. Almost 20 minutes after it was Max Verstappen who climbed on the top, with a time of 1.45.886, improving the time of the Monegasque by 0.2. With still an hour to go on the clock, even the Mercedes were not able to top the time of Verstappen, with Hamilton losing 0.518s and Bottas losing 0.769s.
Eventually, Lewis Hamilton was able to break the 1.45.886 of Verstappen and turned it into 1.45.298s. Some time after it was Lando Norris who was able to beat the time of Hamilton, with a 1.45.274s.
In the meantime both of the Haas cars suffered with power unit issues. For Grosjean it meant a change of engine, and spending the rest of the FP1 in the garage. The same went for Magnussen, who’s car didn’t even fire up, and he also spent the remaining of FP1 in the garage.
They both had new MGU-Ks and Grosjean received a new energy store.
Additionally, the cars of Mercedes, Racing Point, Alfa Romeo, Norris, Latifi and Ocon received new turbo, ICE and MGU-H. Those type of changes are not unusual of Spa.
Antonio Giovinazzi also didn’t set a time.
Soon after it was back to normal - after Albon set the fastest time of 1.45.075s, it was then Bottas who topped the session, with a 1.44.493, with Hamilton very close behind him with 1.44.562s.
Despite the “good” start of the session for Ferrari, with Leclerc setting the first time, the rest of the session was a struggle for both of the red cars - less than half an hour before the end of the FP1, Leclerc was 12th and Vettel was 13th. This does not look good for a team who topped the sessions, qualifications and race for the past two years on this track, especially after the P1 last year of Charles Leclerc. They definitely have a huge amount of work to do to be able to get close to the previous results.
The session ran rather smoothly without any interruption, and we did not see a single yellow flag during the FP1. In the last 10 minutes of the session Bottas locked up at the Bus Stop and had to take it to the run-off, but that was it.
The FP2 is underway, and there is a possibility for a session in a little bit wetter conditions. The second session will begin at 15:00 CET.