Spa-Francorchamps FP1: Raikkonen sets the early pace

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen, perhaps inspired by his recent contract extension with Ferrari, topped the timing screens at the end of the first free practice session of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, Round 12 of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Finn, who has won at the venue on four occasions during his career, set a best lap time of 1:45.502, with Pirelli ultrasoft tyres bolted on,was a mere 0.053 of a second up on Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes on softs, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, using supersofts, in the other Ferrari who was 0.145 of a second down on his teammate at the end of the ninety minute session.

The trio were seven tenths clear of the rest, with Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo in fourth and fifth respectively. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was sixth albeit nearly a second down on the top time, his session marred by an off track excursion.

Toro Rosso showed a handy turn of speed at the legendary track, with Carlos Sainz seventh fastest and Daniil Kvyat in ninth. The pair split by Force India’s Esteban Ocon on the timing screens.

Local hero Stoffel Vandoorne, gave McLaren and fans reason to smile as he ended the session tenth fastest. Teammate Fernando Alonso was less fortunate when he suffered a lack of power, but still ended up 13th fastest. 

Felipe Massa who missed the Hungarian Grand Prix due to illness, was declared fit to race in Belgium, but the Brazilian’s session was over after 15 minutes when he lost control of his Williams on his first flying lap, ending in the barriers exiting Les Combes.

“I just lost the car on the kerb,” he reported to his team over the radio.

Massa was taken to the medical centre for checks, before returning to the pitlane, with his team facing a long job rebuilding the car. The session resumed after a 10 minute stoppage.

2017 Belgian Grand Prix FP1