F1 – summary of free practice at the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Belgium

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            <p>SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium _ Looking for a first victory in an increasingly frustrating season, Ferrari received a boost that came with a hard time as Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc dominated the two practice sessions free of the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

While Vettel was fastest in the morning session, Leclerc dominated the afternoon session on a sunny day.

Even more encouraging, Leclerc's lap is almost a second faster than that of Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes and championship leader Lewis Hamilton on a long, hilly, seven-kilometer circuit that seems to favor Ferrari speed in a straight line.

Bottas and Hamilton were relegated respectively to third and fourth places in the second session.

"They're almost a second faster than us to Turn 5, which is pretty impressive," Hamilton said. I had the feeling that it would work really well for them this weekend. We must apply pressure in another way if we can not do it in pure speed. "

But Ferrari has sometimes impressed during practice and qualifying this season without having managed to win one of the 12 races so far.

In fact, Ferrari's last win came from his former rider Kimi Raikkonen at the US Grand Prix last season, on October 21st.

Vettel's last triumph goes back to Spa last year and the four-time F1 World Champion has not won any of the 20 races since, a dark sequence punctuated by some clumsy mistakes from the German driver who offered the last two five-time champion Hamilton.

Although the day was far from perfect, Racing Point showed encouraging signs. Sergio Perez of Mexico placed fifth, less than one second behind the leader, and Lance Stroll was 8th.

The second session ended a few minutes before the end, however, when Perez came to a stop on the side of the track with smoke escaping from the back of his car, which seemed like a broken engine.

In the morning, the session was briefly delayed when part of Stroll's car body (pontoon and bonnet) broke off, leaving debris on the track.

"Today is one of our best Fridays of the season and it's promising," said Stroll. We were consistent and the pace of the car seemed good, which we had anticipated at Spa.

"I'll do my best in qualifying but the goal is to get the car ready for the race and then make the most overtaking possible to score points. I am confident for the rest of the weekend. "

Hope is reborn

Leclerc, 21, is a real prospect and shows impressive speed in his first season with Ferrari, and only his second in F1, but he failed to take advantage of his two leading positions.

Nevertheless, the day was much better for Ferrari than for its two main rivals.

Hamilton had a visibility problem with the visor of his helmet during the second session, while Max Verstappen of Red Bull, sixth of this session, was concerned about a loss of power and then complained of a problem braking.

The first session was also difficult for Mercedes, especially for Hamilton.

Bottas was about 1.3 seconds behind Vettel and Hamilton conceded 1.4 seconds.

"The Ferraris have been very strong today and they dominate us in straight lines," Bottas said. We must make great strides if we want to fight with them. "

Hamilton spent the first half of the morning sitting in the garage with a faulty accelerator pedal, which had to be changed. He finished sixth behind Bottas.

"It's not a good start for us," said Hamilton. We went on the track and we had another problem, so it was a bit of a mess. "

Vettel no doubt hopes the gaps will be the same on Sunday as he desperately needs to narrow the gap in the title race.

Hamilton leads with a 62-point lead over Bottas in second place, 250-188. Verstappen is 69 points behind Hamilton and Vettel is 94th in fourth.

2nd free practice session:

Charles Leclerc (MON / Ferrari) 1: 44.123 (28 laps)

Sebastian Vettel (GER / Ferrari) 1: 44.753 (30)

Valtteri Bottas (FIN / Mercedes) 1: 44.969 (28)

Lewis Hamilton (GBR / Mercedes) 1: 45.015 (26)

Sergio Perez (MEX / Racing Point-Mercedes) 1: 45.117 (25)

Max Verstappen (NED / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 45.394 (20)

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN / Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) 1: 45.708 (25)

Lance Stroll (CAN / Racing Point-Mercedes) 1: 45.732 (21)

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS / Renault) 1: 45.735 (26)

Alexander Albon (THA / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 45.771 (21)

Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP / McLaren-Renault) 1: 45.999 (28)

Romain Grosjean (FRA / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 46.120 (21)

Nico Hulkenberg (GER / Renault) 1: 46.209 (26)

Daniil Kvyat (RUS / Toro Rosso-Honda) 1: 46.214 (24)

Lando Norris (GBR / McLaren-Renault) 1: 46.258 (29)

Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA / Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) 1: 46.328 (24)

Pierre Gasly (FRA / Toro Rosso-Honda) 1: 46.374 (28)

Kevin Magnussen (DEN / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 46.399 (21)

George Russell (GBR / Williams-Mercedes) 1: 47.887 (30)

Robert Kubica (POL / Williams-Mercedes) 1: 48.331 (32)

First free practice session:

Sebastian Vettel (GER / Ferrari) 1: 44.574 (20 laps)

Charles Leclerc (MON / Ferrari) 1: 44.788 (20)

Max Verstappen (NED / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 45.507 (18)

Alexander Albon (THA / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 45.584 (19)

Valtteri Bottas (FIN / Mercedes) 1: 45.882 (25)

Lewis Hamilton (GBR / Mercedes) 1: 45.973 (16)

Lance Stroll (CAN / Racing Point-Mercedes) 1: 46.198 (16)

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS / Renault) 1: 46.426 (23)

Sergio Perez (MEX / Racing Point-Mercedes) 1: 46.433 (22)

Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP / McLaren-Renault) 1: 46.557 (20)

Nico Hulkenberg (GER / Renault) 1: 46.669 (23)

Lando Norris (GBR / McLaren-Renault) 1: 46.670 (19)

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN / Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) 1: 47.024 (20)

Romain Grosjean (FRA / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 47.176 (18)

Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA / Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) 1: 47.333 (22)

Kevin Magnussen (DEN / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 47.488 (21)

Daniil Kvyat (RUS / Toro Rosso-Honda) 1: 47.636 (20)

Pierre Gasly (FRA / Toro Rosso-Honda) 1: 47.968 (26)

Nicholas Latifi (CAN / Williams-Mercedes) 1: 48.784 (24)

Robert Kubica (POL / Williams-Mercedes) 1: 48.966 (24)

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