Hamilton: Spa Friday practice one of Mercedes’ strongest in 2017

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Lewis Hamilton feels Mercedes has made one of its strongest starts to a Formula 1 race weekend this season after outpacing Ferrari through second practice for the Belgian Grand Prix on Friday.

Hamilton turned in the fastest lap of the day at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, finishing two-tenths of a second clear of the field in FP2.

Mercedes has been tipped to pull clear of chief rival Ferrari at Spa given the high-speed nature of the circuit and the strengths of its W08 car, and the billing seemed justified given Hamilton’s post-session comments.

“Today felt like one of our strongest Fridays so far this season. The car felt strong all-around straight out of the box,” Hamilton said.

“We made some good steps wih the setup right from the start of FP1, which is a really encouraging way to kick off the weekend.

“It looks tight at the top on the long-run pace, but we’ve started the weekend in the best way possible.”

In the sister Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas had a less fruitful day as he finished sixth in FP1 and third in FP2, the Finn feeling he has ground to make up heading into the remainder of the weekend.

“Overall it was a tricky day. We had some trouble setting up the car, but in the end it was getting better, we made quite big steps,” Bottas said.

“It was not feeling too comfortable in the beginning, but it was getting better in the end. The performance of our car, in general, is looking good.

“However, there is still a lot of margin to optimise the car. The long runs in the end were interrupted by the rain, but that was obviously the same for everyone.

“I’m glad that we at least got a few laps in with high fuel.”