Sebastian Vettel tops opening practice at Spa ahead of Max Verstappen
Belgian Grand Prix - FP1

Sebastian Vettel tops opening practice at Spa ahead of Max Verstappen

Sebastian Vettel topped the opening practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix as Formula One got back underway at Spa-Francorchamps after a three-week summer break.

The top three positions were occupied by three different teams, with Vettel's best effort 0.151s ahead of Max Verstappen's Red Bull and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton third fastest, 0.318s off the lead Ferrari. All three drivers set their best efforts on the soft compound tyre, with faster times expected on the super-soft compound if second practice stays dry.

Vettel's Ferrari held the edge over its rivals in the second sector of the lap but was giving away performance to both Red Bull and Mercedes in the high-speed first sector. Ferrari and Mercedes are both running a new specification of engine this weekend, but the ultimate performance of the two updates is unlikely to be revealed until qualifying on Saturday.

The second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes, while Daniel Ricciardo spent the majority of the session in the garage before setting the sixth fastest time in the final few minutes. Red Bull later revealed that a fuel injector issue on Ricciardo's Renault engine was the reason for his absence from the session.

Esteban Ocon was sixth fastest for Force India as the team entered a new era under new ownership. The team has lost its points from the first half of the year after going into administration at the Hungarian Grand Prix and starts from zero in Spa. Nico Hulkenberg was eighth fastest ahead of Sergio Perez in the second Force India and Renault teammate Carlos Sainz.

Pierre Gasly was 11th fastest for Toro Rosso ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean and the two Saubers of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson. Brendon Hartley was 15th in the second Toro Rosso, 0.632s off Gasly, with Lance Stroll in the fastest of the two Williams in 16th.

Kevin Magnussen was 17th ahead of McLaren test driver Lando Norris who made his grand prix debut in Fernando Alonso's car on Friday morning. Norris will give the car back to Alonso for the rest of the weekend but is a serious candidate for a full-time drive with the team next year.

Sergey Sirotkin and Stoffel Vandoorne finished at the bottom of the timesheets, but the Belgian driver was limited to 13 laps due to a leak on the underside of the car.

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