Sainz Tops Rain-Hit First Practice at Belgian GP

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A soggy racetrack due to pre-practice rain welcomed the drivers, compelling them to squeeze their sprint weekend preparations into a single hour-long session.

Alex Albon initially dared the damp conditions with an intermediate tyre, with team-mate Logan Sargeant following suit. Simultaneously, Lewis Hamilton made his first run with Mercedes’ new upgrades using the wet tyre.

Albon clocked the initial timed lap, a 2m08.394s, just as the rain started to increase in intensity at the start of the session. Hamilton’s first run on the wet tyres was 1.9 seconds slower than the Williams driver’s time.

Despite Albon’s promising start, he failed to slow down in time to successfully traverse the Bus Stop chicane and had to return to the pits after steering his car out of the run-off.

Yuki Tsunoda positioned his car slightly ahead of Hamilton’s by nearly 0.2s and maintained control of his AlphaTauri during his next turn at Eau Rouge, even as his car swerved halfway up the hill, forcing him to drive over the Raidillon run-off.

The initial activity soon dried up as standing water around the seven-kilometre Spa-Francorchamps increased due to worsening rain. However, Sainz, Lando Norris, and Sergio Perez chose to continue in the wet conditions once the session’s first 15 minutes concluded.

Sainz registered a 2m09.081s, taking second place behind Albon as he kept making rounds of the circuit, while Norris joined other drivers on the intermediate tyre as track conditions appeared to slightly improve.

Pierre Gasly, on intermediate tyres, was close to surpassing Albon’s lap but ended up locking up into the Bus Stop. Instead, Charles Leclerc took the lead with the wet compound, clocking a 2m08.148s.

Norris then surpassed that on the intermediate tyre with 2m04.484s, significantly faster than Leclerc. But he was soon overtaken by his team-mate Oscar Piastri’s 2m03.792s. Sainz, also on intermediates, found extra pace to set a time of 2m03.207s.

A red flag was produced when Sargeant went off course at the end of the Kemmel Straight, unable to steer his car to the right and stopping at Les Combes.

After the track was reopened with 20 minutes left, the intensified rainfall deterred any action. However, Perez and Max Verstappen decided to return to the track on intermediate tyres despite the weather. They completed an installation lap each before retreating to the drier pit garage.

Aston Martins completed their own recon laps on the intermediate tyres before returning to the pitlane. Both Ferraris, Haases and Alfa Romeos, along with Lewis Hamilton, made it to the track right at the end of the session for one final lap.

15 drivers clocked representative times, with Norris’s intermediate lap ranking third, ahead of Leclerc who had the quickest time on the wet tyre.

Perez’s time was fifth fastest, slightly better than Albon’s session opener, while Tsunoda was barely faster than Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.

Daniel Ricciardo’s wet tyre time was good enough for ninth fastest, and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10, ahead of Alonso, Hamilton, and George Russell. Valtteri Bottas and Zhou were at the tail end of those who had set times, with Zhou having an off-track incident at Malmedy.

Race Results:

  1. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 92’03.207
  2. Oscar Piastri, McLaren, 4+0.585
  3. Lando Norris, McLaren, 4+1.277
  4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 8+4.941
  5. Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 5+5.033
  6. Alex Albon, Williams, 5+5.187
  7. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, 8+5.860
  8. Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team, 7+6.022
  9. Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri, 7+6.112
  10. Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team, 8+6.835
  11. Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin Racing, 4+7.076
  12. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 7+7.092
  13. George Russell, Mercedes, 7+7.268
  14. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, 9+8.878
  15. Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo, 8+10.795

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Belgian GP First Practice

Who was the fastest in the first practice of the Belgian Grand Prix?

Carlos Sainz of Ferrari was the fastest in the first practice of the Belgian Grand Prix.

What were the track conditions during the first practice?

The track was wet due to pre-practice rain, making it challenging for the drivers.

Who made the first timed lap of the practice?

Alex Albon from Williams made the first timed lap of the practice.

How did Lewis Hamilton perform during the session?

Lewis Hamilton, driving for Mercedes, ranked 12th during this session.

Which drivers were in the top three positions in the first practice?

The top three positions were taken by Carlos Sainz from Ferrari, Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris both from McLaren.

Did the session experience any interruptions?

Yes, a red flag was produced when Logan Sargeant from Williams went off course, unable to steer his car to the right and stopped at Les Combes.

More about Belgian GP First Practice

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RacingChamp44 July 29, 2023 - 9:32 am

Track was so wet, made it crazy hard 4 da drivers. Albon’s 1st lap wuz cool!

F1Fan21 July 29, 2023 - 5:12 pm

carlos sainz rocked in da rain! ferrari showin’ some speed, bro.


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