F1: Ferrari’s Drivers Dominate Spa Practice
Ferrari’s (NYSE:RACE) Kimi Raikkonen posted the fastest time in FP2 for the Belgian Grand Prix, teammate Sebastian Vettel was quickest in FP1 earlier Friday.
There is a 3rd and final practice on Saturday ahead of qualifying, where Mr. Vettel needs a strong performance to put pressure on F1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
Mr. Raikkonen was .168 ahead of Hamilton and nearly a half sec clear of MercedesAMG’s Valtteri Bottas.
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was 4th quickest ahead of Mr. Vettel in mild but overcast afternoon conditions.
Mr. Hamilton leads the overall standings by 24 points from Mr. Vettel, but the 7-km Spa circuit in the Ardennes forest is well suited to Ferrari and gives him a super chance catch up.
Spa is also good for overtaking, negating the usual overly-dominant position of the driver who takes Pole position. Mr. Hamilton is F1’s all-time record holder with 77 Poles, 9 more than Michael Schumacher and 22 ahead of Mr. Vettel.
Mr. Hamilton also leads Mr. Vettel in GP wins: 5-4 this season and 67-51 overall.
Mr. Raikkonen last won at the season-opening Australian GP in Y 2013, but 4 of his 20 victories have been at Spa.
Only Ayrton Senna, with five wins, and Schumacher, with six, have had more success at Spa. Another victory for the 38-year-old Raikkonen could be timely in his bid to get a new Ferrari contract for next year.
Ferrari’s last win at was in Y 2009, with Mr. Raikkonen behind the wheel during his 1st stint with the Maranello Outfit. MercedesAMG has won the past 3 races at Spa.
Mr. Bottas was penalized for too many engine changes and will start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, hampered by an engine problem in FP1, finished both sessions in 6th place. Red Bull has less power than MercedesAMG and Ferrari and, according to Mr.Verstappen, neither driver can realistically expect to finish higher than 5th and 6th on Sunday.