Belgian F1 Grand Prix 2019 Qualifying: Results, Times from Friday's Practice

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistAugust 30, 2019

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 30: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF90 on track during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 30, 2019 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Ferrari dominated the first two practice sessions for the 2019 Belgian Formula One Grand Prix on Friday. Charles Leclerc was fastest in FP2 after team-mate Sebastian Vettel had clocked the quickest time during the opening run.

Leclerc refused to be outdone, posting the fastest lap at one minute, 44.123 seconds.

FP2 was brought to an abrupt end when Racing Point's Sergio Perez came to a halt with smoke billowing from his engine. The red flag confirmed Ferrari's stellar day, while there were contrasting fortunes for Mercedes, with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton third- and fourth-fastest, respectively.

Formula 1 @F1

CLASSIFICATION - END OF FP2 Another 1-2 for @ScuderiaFerrari - but this time it's @Charles_Leclerc on top Hat-tip to @SChecoPerez - although his session ends with what looked like overheating issues #F1 #BelgianGP ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช https://t.co/aJdlW8CWsH

Alexander Albon acquitted himself well on his debut for Red Bull Racing.

Earlier, Vettel got off to an encouraging start in his effort to win this race for a second year in a row, recording the fastest lap in first practice, while Hamiltonย came sixth after a delayed start.

Vettel ended Friday's morning session with a fastest time of 1:44.574. Leclerc followed closely to complete a Ferrari one-two in the first phase of practice.

The biggest partnerships stayed bunched together among the top places. Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Albon finished third and fourth, respectively, while Bottas took fifth ahead of team-mate Hamilton.

Formula 1 @F1

CLASSIFICATION: END OF FP1 A 1-2 for @ScuderiaFerrari Albon only 0.077 behind Verstappen in his first Red Bull session It's great to be back! #F1 #BelgianGP ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช https://t.co/TwHc2mfrh2

Racing Point driver Lance Stroll impressed on his run to the seventh-fastest time, clocking in at 1:46.198ย  despite losing part of his engine cover earlier in the session.

Championship leader Hamilton and Bottas, in particular, will be hoping to improve in the later session, with the former seeking his ninth race victory of this calendar year.

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FP1 Recap

Ferrari will take great confidence from Friday's early result and the gap ofย 0.933 seconds that separated runner-up Leclerc from third-place finisher Verstappen.

Neither Vettel nor Leclerc have produced a victory between them this year, and Hamilton's early issues could be the opening they need to eat into his advantage.

The Mercedes star leads team-mate Bottas by 62 points in the standings, with Verstappen another seven points behind in third ahead of Sunday's race.

Hamilton didn't register his first time until more than an hour of the session had passed, immediately zipping into 10th but still a couple of seconds behind the Ferraris.

He rose another four places but failed to build any momentum for a challenging time. Reporter Luke Smith confirmed Hamilton's issue from first practice, suggesting improvements are on the way:

Luke Smith @LukeSmithF1

Mercedes confirms Hamilton had a problem with his throttle pedal, which is now being changed #F1 #BelgianGP

It wasย confirmed this monthย that former Toro Rosso driver Albon would replace Pierre Gasly at Red Bull for the final nine races of the 2019 season.

His performance at Spa in Stavelot, Belgium, was promising as far as debuts go, with his fourth-best time justย 0.077 seconds slower than his team-mate.

Albon may be new to the Red Bull garage, but the 23-year-old explained prior to Friday's practice that he and Verstappen share a competitive history:

Formula 1 @F1

New F1 team mates from this weekend in Belgium But @alex_albon and @Max33Verstappen have history ๐Ÿ‘€ ๐Ÿ’ฅ #F1 #BelgianGP ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช https://t.co/PdCms88vme

Stroll was one of numerous drivers to experience success on the soft tyres throughout the session. He did well to finish as high as seventh after he lost a piece of his casing early on:

Formula 1 @F1

It was lift-off after the summer break for the drivers in FP1 at Spa And lift-off for Lance Stroll's engine cover too ๐Ÿ‘€ ๐Ÿ˜ฏ #F1 #BelgianGP ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช https://t.co/Ins2Zdqiem

FP2 Recap

Buoyed by the momentum accrued during FP1, Vettel started the second run swiftly. He was riding on the medium tyres, and while there was some difficulty, Vettel generally handled the turns well.

While Vettel was setting the early pace, it wasn't long before he was upstaged by Leclerc. The 21-year-old was soon riding quickest:

Formula 1 @F1

And Vettel is leap-frogged by his team mate, as Charles Leclerc goes into P1 ๐Ÿ”ฅ His 1:44.123 is the fastest time of the entire day so far #F1 #BelgianGP ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช https://t.co/lsXdBtPLfS

Leclerc was now asserting himself, a move that encouraged the Silver Arrows to do more. On cue, Hamilton duly made his move during the middle sector, although it still wasn't enough to match or better Leclerc:

Formula 1 @F1

FASTEST SECTORS ๐Ÿš€ Hamilton fastest in the middle But he's almost a second slower than Leclerc overall with 25 minutes left in FP2 #F1 #BelgianGP ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช https://t.co/k9rLekEkay

Ferrari remained in control at the halfway stage of the session. However, Perez was still in the mix before his engine trouble, while Verstappen was pushing his car as far as he could, although his efforts were only good enough for sixth-fastest.

Perez stayed fifth-fastest, despite his Mercedes-powered vehicle giving out late on. Worryingly for Racing Point, Perez wasn't the only one of the team's drivers to encounter problems:

Formula 1 @F1

๐Ÿ“ป Stroll: "It feels like there's something burning at the back of my seat - I can smell burning too" He returns back to the garage and fans are applied to his car as he jumps out #F1 #BelgianGP ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช https://t.co/PN23lQnbgf

Formula 1 @F1

VIRTUAL SAFETY CAR There's another hot Racing Point out there This time it's Sergio Perez and this time we can spot the flames ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ๐Ÿ”ฅ #F1 #BelgianGP ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช https://t.co/xd8ws0NlPm

Ferrari have the early edge at Spa-Francorchamps ahead of Sunday's race, but Mercedes have time on their side to work out any kinks in time for Sunday.