Sebastian Vettel leads Ferrari one-two in final practice
Belgian Grand Prix - FP3

Sebastian Vettel leads Ferrari one-two in final practice

Sebastian Vettel kept Ferrari on top for the third session in a row at the Belgian Grand Prix as he beat teammate Kimi Raikkonen to the fastest time in final practice.

Only 0.063s split the two Ferrari drivers, with Vettel's championship rival Lewis Hamilton a further 0.074s adrift in third place. Vettel had been in second place after his first attempt on super-soft tyres, but a second lap on the same set yielded a 1:42.661 -- the fastest time of the weekend so far.

The margins are small enough that all three drivers will fancy their chances of securing pole position on Saturday afternoon, while Valtteri Bottas in fourth place has to find over 0.8s on his practice time to stand a chance of challenging the Ferraris for the front row.

The relative sector times of the two teams reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the two cars, with Hamilton losing 0.24s on the long straights in the first sector but gaining 0.25s in the high-speed corners of the second sector. Ferrari holds the edge in the power-sensitive final sector, giving Vettel and Raikkonen an advantage over Hamilton -- but the differences are small after both teams brought an engine upgrade to this weekend.

Interestingly, had Raikkonen hooked up all three of his fastest sectors, he would have put together a quicker overall lap time than Vettel.

The session was red flagged with 10 minutes to go after Stoffel Vandoorne spun on the Kemmel Straight trying to avoid a collision with Bottas. Vandoorne was on a hot lap and trying to gain a slipstream from teammate Fernando Alonso when Bottas' Mercedes ended up between the two McLarens through Eau Rouge.

As the cars emerged at the top of Raidillon, Vandoorne went to the outside of Bottas only for the Mercedes to drift across the track and put the McLaren on the grass. Vandoorne did well to avoid a major accident, but still clipped the barrier on the inside of the track with the rear of his car. An eight minute stoppage followed to allow the marshals to clear the stricken McLaren from the circuit. Both drivers have been summoned to see the stewards.

The red flag ruined Red Bull's super-soft runs, but Max Verstappen returned to the track in the final two minutes to improve with a time 1.387s off Vettel. He had a scrappy middle sector, however, and will hope to see that margin decrease to under a second when it comes to qualifying. Daniel Ricciardo also attempted a last minute super-soft time, but traffic and a rushed preparation lap meant he failed to improve on his soft tyre time. That left him just 0.5s quicker than Charles Leclerc, who set an impressive lap to haul his Sauber up to seventh.

Sergio Perez continued his strong weekend in eighth for Force India. The team lost all its constructors' points ahead of the weekend after it changed ownership and was forced to submit a new entry on Thursday, but looks set to start rebuilding its tally with both drivers firm fixtures in the top ten during practice. Nico Hulkenberg will also be targeting a Q3 appearance in the afternoon after setting the ninth fastest time in final practice.

Outside the top ten, Marcus Ericsson was 11th in the second Sauber ahead of Romain Grosjean, Carlos Sainz, Kevin Magnussen and the two Toro Rossos of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley. At the back of the field, Williams elevated themselves ahead of McLaren, although neither Fernando Alonso nor Stoffel Vandoorne set a time on the super-softs.

Related news

F1 engine manufacturers will have to share tech with new entrants under new rules

F1 engine manufacturers will have to share tech with new entrants under new rules

Formula One is hoping to attract new engine manufacturers to the grid by introducing rules that require existing manufacturers to share technology with new entrants.

Sebastian Vettel fastest in Abu Dhabi test as Kimi Raikkonen returns to Sauber

Sebastian Vettel fastest in Abu Dhabi test as Kimi Raikkonen returns to Sauber

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time on the first day of Abu Dhabi's post-season test, as his former Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen completed his first day back at Sauber.

Hamilton caps off 2018 with easy win in Abu Dhabi

Hamilton caps off 2018 with easy win in Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton won the final race of the Formula One season in Abu Dhabi, crowning his championship-winning 2018 campaign with an 11th victory from 21 races.

Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel to pole for Abu Dhabi finale

Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel to pole for Abu Dhabi finale

Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position at the final race of the 2018 season after securing the fastest qualifying time by 0.162s in Abu Dhabi.

Lewis Hamilton leads Kimi Raikkonen in final practice for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton leads Kimi Raikkonen in final practice for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton finished the final practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the top of the timesheets as Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen emerged as his closest competitor.

Valtteri Bottas pips Max Verstappen by 0.044s to top second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas pips Max Verstappen by 0.044s to top second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas topped the second practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Mercedes and Red Bull battled each other for the fastest time under Yas Marina's floodlights.

Max Verstappen leads comfortable Red Bull one-two in first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice

Max Verstappen leads comfortable Red Bull one-two in first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice

Max Verstappen was comfortably quickest after the first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, finishing the session 0.454s quicker than teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Dovizioso triumphs in wild rain-hit finale

Dovizioso triumphs in wild rain-hit finale

Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso emerged victorious in a stop-start, attrition-heavy 2018 MotoGP season finale at a wet Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

Latvala wins in Australia, WRC title for Ogier

Latvala wins in Australia, WRC title for Ogier

Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala won Rally Australia, while crashes for Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak helped seal a sixth World Rally Championship title for M-Sport Ford's Sebastien Ogier.

RELATED NEWS

F1 engine manufacturers will have to share tech with new entrants under new rules
F1 news

F1 engine manufacturers will have to share tech with new entrants under new rules

Formula One is hoping to attract new engine manufacturers to the grid by introducing rules that require existing manufacturers to share technology with new entrants.

Sebastian Vettel fastest in Abu Dhabi test as Kimi Raikkonen returns to Sauber
Abu Dhabi test

Sebastian Vettel fastest in Abu Dhabi test as Kimi Raikkonen returns to Sauber

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time on the first day of Abu Dhabi's post-season test, as his former Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen completed his first day back at Sauber.

Hamilton caps off 2018 with easy win in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Hamilton caps off 2018 with easy win in Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton won the final race of the Formula One season in Abu Dhabi, crowning his championship-winning 2018 campaign with an 11th victory from 21 races.

Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel to pole for Abu Dhabi finale
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel to pole for Abu Dhabi finale

Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position at the final race of the 2018 season after securing the fastest qualifying time by 0.162s in Abu Dhabi.

Lewis Hamilton leads Kimi Raikkonen in final practice for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - FP3

Lewis Hamilton leads Kimi Raikkonen in final practice for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton finished the final practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the top of the timesheets as Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen emerged as his closest competitor.

Valtteri Bottas pips Max Verstappen by 0.044s to top second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - FP2

Valtteri Bottas pips Max Verstappen by 0.044s to top second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas topped the second practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Mercedes and Red Bull battled each other for the fastest time under Yas Marina's floodlights.

Max Verstappen leads comfortable Red Bull one-two in first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - FP1

Max Verstappen leads comfortable Red Bull one-two in first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice

Max Verstappen was comfortably quickest after the first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, finishing the session 0.454s quicker than teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Dovizioso triumphs in wild rain-hit finale
Valencia Grand Prix

Dovizioso triumphs in wild rain-hit finale

Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso emerged victorious in a stop-start, attrition-heavy 2018 MotoGP season finale at a wet Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

Latvala wins in Australia, WRC title for Ogier
Rally Australia

Latvala wins in Australia, WRC title for Ogier

Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala won Rally Australia, while crashes for Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak helped seal a sixth World Rally Championship title for M-Sport Ford's Sebastien Ogier.