Ferraris run 1-2 in final practice at Spa

Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen

In a somewhat surprising turn of events after Mercedes was so strong Friday, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel ran 1-2 in final practice for the Belgian GP at Spa Saturday morning.

Raikkonen's lap was so scorching in fact that Hamilton could only get to with 0.198s of the Finn. And Vettel could not match it either, though he did edge ahead of Hamilton. Vettel and Hamilton set almost identical times as they finished around two tenths back from the Finn, with Verstappen a long way back (over 1-sec.) in fourth.

Valtteri Bottas was fifth in the sister Mercedes, followed by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and an impressive Jolyon Palmer for Renault. Force India’s Sergio Perez, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso completed the top ten.

Hamilton set the initial pace on the supersoft Pirelli tyres with a lap of 1m 45.480s, with Raikkonen close behind on 1m 45.583s and Vettel on 1m 45 737s, but where the silver car then went back into the garage, the red ones each did another run, resulting in the fastest time going to Raikkonen with 1m 45.422s and Vettel moving into second on 1m 45.458s.

Hamilton was expected to reverse that when they all switched to ultrasofts, but though he set the best first and third sector times, it was Raikkonen who stayed ahead with 1m 43.916s. The Ferrari was quickest in the crucial second sector, which is all about downforce.

Hamilton’s reply fell short with 1m 44.114s, which was beaten by Vettel by a thousandth.

Hamilton expected to win pole
Hamilton is still expected to win pole

Behind them there was a big gap to the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo, on 1m 45.034s and 1m 45.286s respectively, as Bottas separated them with 1m 45.230s having aborted what seemed a faster lap earlier on.

The surprise of the session was Palmer’s speed. The beleaguered Briton, who has had a gruelling season, was seventh on 1m 46.648s on the supersofts, some way ahead of team mate Nico Hulkenberg, and stayed there with 1m 45.491s on the ultrasofts.

He was chased by Perez, who got his Force India going more to his liking, Sainz in the lead Toro Rosso, and Alonso in the lead McLaren, but as usual the midfield times were all very close, with less than a second separating eighth-placed Perez from 17th-placed Kevin Magnussen in the Haas.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat had a tough morning, stopping with power loss and a brief engine fire on the Kemmel straight midway through the session, while Williams’ Felipe Massa is under investigation for failing to slow down for yellow flags.

The scene is thus set for another gripping battle between Ferrari and Mercedes in qualifying, on a circuit where the latter were expected to have a significant advantage.

Results

POS NO DRIVER CAR TIME GAP LAPS
1 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:43.916 +0.000s 17
2 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:44.113 +0.197s 15
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:44.114 +0.198s 11
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:45.034 +1.118s 13
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:45.230 +1.314s 18
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:45.286 +1.370s 18
7 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:45.491 +1.575s 11
8 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:45.857 +1.941s 14
9 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:45.942 +2.026s 18
10 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:46.060 +2.144s 12
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:46.064 +2.148s 11
12 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:46.179 +2.263s 14
13 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:46.196 +2.280s 14
14 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 1:46.300 +2.384s 14
15 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:46.620 +2.704s 18
16 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 1:46.667 +2.751s 22
17 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:46.690 +2.774s 13
18 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:47.903 +3.987s 7
19 94 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:48.296 +4.380s 17
20 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:48.300 +4.384s 6

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