Sainz leads Ferrari one-two in Belgian GP practice

Carlos Sainz topped Free Practice 1 in Belgium

Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz ended the opening practice session of the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix fastest from team-mate Charles Leclerc.

The Ferrari pair topped a session that was, in reality, ended by a red flag when Kevin Magnussen rolled to a halt exiting La Source with 23 minutes remaining.

Though the session resumed after a length red flag, the skies opened and curtailed any meaningful running.

Officially, the circuit had ‘low grip conditions’ before the session started, though the rain itself held off initially.

Even still, intermediate tyres were the choice of most initially, completing an installation lap and pitting for a set of slick tyres.

That saw hards for Sainz and softs for Fernando Alonso in the early minutes.

It was a notable session for Liam Lawson, the New Zealander making his Formula 1 race weekend debut in Pierre Gasly’s Scuderia AlphaTauri.

Given the sub-optimal conditions, it took a few minutes before any meaningful laps were completed, Sainz the first of those with a 1:50.958s.

That stood only until Lando Norris set a 1:49.712s on a set of the soft compound tyres.

McLaren has a raft of upgrades this weekend, many circuit-specific including a new rear wing and engine cover.

All 10 teams had updates, while at Mercedes a set of development mirrors were fitted to Lewis Hamilton’s car.

The large design offered something of a glimpse of 2023 when the regulations mandate larger mirrors to improve visibility and safety.

In the pit lane, Nicholas Latifi was released into the path of Max Verstappen who was forced to take avoiding action, a moment which the stewards noted but otherwise felt no need to act upon.

On track, Verstappen had gone fastest a third of the way into proceedings, a 1:46.755s set on the soft compound rubber.

It left him well clear of anybody else, Sainz second best but 2.3s away on the hard rubber.

Charles Leclerc went marginally quicker to log a 1:49.017s before Sergio Perez managed a 1:48.474s to make a Red Bull one-two.

A problem for Esteban Ocon saw the Frenchman climb out of his Alpine with 35 minutes remaining, the team focused on the left-rear of his car.

He is one of the six drivers heading into Free Practice 1 carrying power unit penalties, together with Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, Mick Schumacher, and Max Verstappen.

A problem for Magnussen saw the Haas driver stop out on track, rolling to a halt on the exit of La Source with 23 minutes remaining.

It proved a lengthy interruption as the electrical system on the Haas was active, forcing team mechanics out on track to make the car safe.

The session eventually restarted with nine minutes remaining with Sainz sat atop the timesheets, his 1:46.538s set just before the stoppage.

The rain that had threatened earlier finally arrived as the green light at pit exit was shown, the Fagnes and Stavelot end of the circuit first to receive the downpour.

It saw the field, or that of it which had headed out, trundle back to the pits and see out the session from the garage.

A handful did venture out, the the worsening conditions meant it afforded little beyond an opportunity to crash.

Sainz, therefore, ended proceedings fastest from Leclerc, then Verstappen, George Russell, Lance Stroll, Alex Albon, and Daniel Ricciardo.

Free Practice 2 in Belgium begins at 01:00 AEST.

Results: Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1

Pos Num Driver Team Laps Time Diff
1 55 Carlos Sainz Scuderia Ferrari 16 1:46.538
2 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari 16 1:46.607 +0.069s
3 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 10 1:46.755 +0.217s
4 63 George Russell Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 13 1:47.396 +0.858s
5 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin F1 Team 13 1:47.437 +0.899s
6 23 Alex Albon Williams Racing 15 1:47.835 +1.297s
7 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team 14 1:48.081 +1.543s
8 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri 16 1:48.310 +1.772s
9 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 10 1:48.420 +1.882s
10 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 13 1:48.474 +1.936s
11 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing 13 1:48.485 +1.947s
12 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo F1 Team 15 1:48.672 +2.134s
13 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team 15 1:49.470 +2.932s
14 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team 17 1:49.664 +3.126s
15 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin F1 Team 12 1:49.813 +3.275s
16 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team 5 1:50.315 +3.777s
17 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team 9 1:50.982 +4.444s
18 47 Mick Schumacher Haas F1 Team 15 1:51.259 +4.721s
19 40 Liam Lawson Scuderia AlphaTauri 14 1:52.065 +5.527s
20 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo F1 Team 2 0:00.000 00.000

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