Four-time Belgian Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen made an impressive return from Formula 1’s summer break by leading opening practice for this weekend’s race at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Raikkonen led Ferrari to the head of the field with a late lap on the ultra-soft compound tire, posting a fastest time of 1:45.502 in the SF70H car.
His effort was enough to edge out Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who had led for much of the session after a rapid lap on the soft tire, only to finish 0.053 seconds behind in P2.
Sebastian Vettel underpinned Raikkonen’s pace in the second Ferrari by lapping just one-tenth of a second slower, suggesting the Italian marque may be able to take the fight to Mercedes at Spa despite prior concerns given its high-speed nature.
Max Verstappen took P4 for Red Bull ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, while Valtteri Bottas finished sixth for Mercedes.
Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat both finished in the top 10 for Toro Rosso, taking P7 and P9, with Esteban Ocon splitting the pair for Force India. Stoffel Vandoorne rounded out the top 10 for McLaren.
The session was interrupted early on following a crash for Felipe Massa at the exit of Malmedy, running wide through the gravel after getting loose and slamming into the barrier. The Brazilian was taken to the medical center as a precaution before being cleared, while the Williams team was left with a sizeable repair job to complete in time for second practice.
Bottas also had an off-track excursion soon after posting his fastest time of the session, clipping the gravel at Turn 12. His Mercedes car was largely unharmed, damaging only the front wing after scrubbing off plenty of speed before clipping the barrier.
Here’s the final classification from FP1 at Spa.