Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel takes first free practice in Belgium
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News August 24, 2018 Updated: 11:31 AM PT
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium -- Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel kicked off the second half of the Formula One season finishing on top in the first free practice ahead of this weekend's Johnnie Walker Belgian Grand Prix.
Vettel finished 0.151s ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton was 0.318s off Vettel in third.
“Overall, I think it’s going the right way. Today it was a bit difficult to figure out where we are and I think we’ll have to wait for tomorrow to have a better idea,” Vettel said.
Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth ahead of Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas who is set to start from the back of the grid this weekend after exceeding the allocated number of power units for the season.
Most of Daniel Ricciardo’s session was spent in the garage while his team worked to resolve a fuel injector issue leaving him to finish the morning sixth.
Force India, who start the weekend under new ownership and a new name, Racing Points Force India, saw driver Esteban Ocon finish seventh ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg in eighth. As a result of the name change, the team will have to start the second half of the season from zero.
Ocon’s teammate Sergio Perez finished ninth ahead of Hulkenberg’s Renault teammate Carlos Sainz in tenth.
Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly took 11th ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean. The Sauber pair of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson finished in 12th and 13th.
Gasly’s teammate Brendon Hartley finished 15th with Williams’ driver Lance Stroll in 16th.
Kevin Magnussen finished 17th in the second Haas ahead of British Formula 2 driver Lando Norris. Norris participated in this first free practice session behind the wheel of Fernando Alonso's McLaren. He ended the morning in 18th.
“It’s very different to drive in Formula 1, mainly because of the pressure,” said Norris. “There are a lot more people here. I think it’s a good thing that I get to see first-hand what it’s like to drive on a race weekend, and to have a rough idea of where I stand compared to Stoffel and Fernando.”
Sergey Sirotkin finished 19th but suffered a spin after losing the rear of his car at Turn 8. Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne hopes things will improve this weekend at his home race after his session was cut short when a leak was discovered on his car, leaving him to finish 20th.