Bottas leads Verstappen, Hamilton 18th in damp practice session at Spa

2021 Belgian Grand Prix first practice

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Valtteri Bottas was quickest in a damp opening hour of practice for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

First practice started with a downpour in the pit lane and across the lower area of Spa. However, it was dry at the top of the track, and drivers emerged from the pits with caution.

Carlos Sainz Jnr was the first driver out on track, taking a wary approach with intermediate tyres. Valtteri Bottas followed him out but both didn’t set a time, creeping around Spa to assess the conditions.

After quarter of an hour of first practice no one had set a time but finally, with eighteen minutes to go, Lando Norris put the first time on the board, though his 1’50.191 was obviously not representative of a dry-weather time. However as more drivers finally got stuck into the task at hand, lap times steadily began to fall.

At the halfway point conditions were improving and drivers and teams took advantage of the opportunity to set laps. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez led much of the mid-section of the session until a relatively late lap by Bottas took the top time.

There were a few instances of drivers impeding each other, most notably Lance Stroll getting in the way of George Russell through Eau Rouge. Stroll was reprimanded by his own engineer, telling him he had to “push through Eau Rouge, you can’t do that.”

Lewis Hamilton was also impeded by Nicholas Latifi approaching the chicane at the end of the lap. That cost him one of his few attempts at a time, and left him down in 18th behind the Williams drivers.

Several drivers spun early in the session – Kimi Raikkonen and Yuki Tsunoda showed no amount of experience will help you around a greasy Spa – and Charles Leclerc tested out the new gravel trap at turn seven. None of them suffered major consequences for the errors and the session was uninterrupted by anything but rain, which appeared again in the final minutes. Raikkonen also damaged his Alfa Romeo by hitting the wall on his way into the pits.

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2021 Belgian Grand Prix first practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes1’45.19918
233Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’45.3630.16414
310Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’45.6990.50020
416Charles LeclercFerrari1’45.8180.61919
555Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’45.9350.73620
611Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’46.1270.92817
75Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’46.1770.97819
84Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’46.3361.13717
931Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’46.4971.29816
1014Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’46.6121.41316
1118Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’46.6491.45019
123Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’46.6831.48420
1399Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’46.7551.55617
1463George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’46.7721.57319
1522Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’46.9281.72919
166Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’47.1011.90220
177Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’48.1252.92615
1844Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’48.2243.02517
199Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’48.7053.50616
2047Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’49.0593.86015

First practice visual gaps

Valtteri Bottas – 1’45.199

+0.164 Max Verstappen – 1’45.363

+0.500 Pierre Gasly – 1’45.699

+0.619 Charles Leclerc – 1’45.818

+0.736 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’45.935

+0.928 Sergio Perez – 1’46.127

+0.978 Sebastian Vettel – 1’46.177

+1.137 Lando Norris – 1’46.336

+1.298 Esteban Ocon – 1’46.497

+1.413 Fernando Alonso – 1’46.612

+1.450 Lance Stroll – 1’46.649

+1.484 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’46.683

+1.556 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’46.755

+1.573 George Russell – 1’46.772

+1.729 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’46.928

+1.902 Nicholas Latifi – 1’47.101

+2.926 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’48.125

+3.025 Lewis Hamilton – 1’48.224

+3.506 Nikita Mazepin – 1’48.705

+3.860 Mick Schumacher – 1’49.059

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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17 comments on “Bottas leads Verstappen, Hamilton 18th in damp practice session at Spa”

  1. Looking at where Perez is vs Bottas this season might be over again and we will head to the ninth (!) year of Mercedes dominance. I hope the organisers are paying attention. This should never ever happen again. Such a pity, but I guess an even so big accomplishment by Mercedes (unfortunately)

    1. someone or something
      27th August 2021, 11:53

      Looking at where Russell is vs Hamilton, I think Mercedes should go into 2022 with Bottas/Russell.

      Three words:
      – Free
      – Practice
      – One

    2. Well, Mercedes have stacked the deck…

      Including most funding and best drivers they could get.

      Now it is obvious Red Bull is within striking distance, few slip ups and Verstappen can snag WDC.

      1. Commenting late on P1 (recorded and watched later). I have a question if anyone sees my comment and saw this in P1. At the end of P1, actually after time was out, a replay of a Bottas lap was shown. I noticed that the small aero piece off the bodywork, just ahead of the centerline of the front tires (sorry, don’t know what the piece is called), the piece on the left side of the car was vibrating quite a bit while the piece on the right side was solid as a rock. Can any of the knowledgeable people on here comment??

    3. Red bull don’t want the constructors championship, it’s all in on max winning the drivers.

        1. It was clear when they pitted Perez at silver stone, sacrificing a point that would have gone to Perez and Redbull in the constructors championship just so that Perez could take the fastest lap off hamilton. If they cared about the constructors championship they would never have done that.

          1. Why don’t people consider EVERY aspect when something like this happens? Red bull sacrificed a point (perez’s) to take away 1 from hamilton and mercedes, no one benefitted from this in the constructors!

            The thing you may have a point with is perez could’ve got more points, but to me he wasn’t convincing, he didn’t look like he was gonna pass anyone.

      1. Wow, we have an f1 insider here

      2. Like Mercedes doesn’t want to constructors championship it just happens but was not important…. Sure. Now i am not good enough with my english to tell if you are joking….

    4. Really this year should have been a free pass for Mercedes ever since the new regulations were deferred for a year, thanks to Covid. It is only because they botched their adaptations to the minor rule changes for this season that we’ve had a contest at all. As you say though, that looks to be over now.

      1. Free pass? I remember Red Bull made big gains during the course of 2020 and ended it on a high with a dominant win at Abu Dhabi. Why demean their brilliant work by putting their competitiveness this season down to Mercedes botching things?

        Reply moderated
      2. Isn’t this an over-reaction (for now)? You’re basing mercedes running off with the season on these fp sessions? Cause to me it doesn’t mean much, and I’d give hungary to mercedes and maybe silverstone to red bull, hence unless you’re drawing from a fp1 that a car is dominant, I don’t see what changed yet.

  2. Merc has been quickest car on average this season.

    Starting on the backfoot in Bahrain it has been on and off with RB, but Merc is clearly ahead since their Silverstone updates.
    RB’s strength was generally in qualifying while Merc had racepace but in last few races Merc also the better qualifying car.

    1. That and two Verstappen DNFs.

    2. It’s been pretty neck and neck all season, only races where there has been clear dominance is both in Austria

  3. Any idea who’s ahead in the speed traps?

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