Valtteri Bottas topped Free Practice 1, ahead of Max Verstappen during a session of ever-changing track conditions, with Pierre Gasly and the two Ferraris rounding off the top 5 for the session at Spa-Francorchamps.
The first Free Practice session started out with a slightly wet track, with the rain lifting right before the session commenced. The teams headed on to the track later than usual, waiting for the track conditions to improve.
Drivers headed onto the track, fitted with intermediate tires, as parts of the track were still wet, despite the rain clearing up. After some exploratory laps, teams opted to revert to slicks, after weather forecasts predicted no rain for the remainder of the session, with no timed laps after 10 minutes.
With 45 minutes to go, the yellow flag was brought on in Sector 1 after Kimi Raikkonen spun, coming out of Turn 1, with the Finn sporting the hard compound tires during his run. Facing a similar fate was Yuki Tsunoda, who also was fitted with the hard tires.
With 30 minutes to go, Verstappen went to the top of the timings with his first flying lap, while fitted with the hard compounds, three-tenths ahead of the nearest rival at the time, Carlos Sainz Jr.
Raikkonen had another unfortunate incident, as he hit the wall while entering the pitlane. eventually entering the garage with no additional damage inflicted to both driver and car.
With 20 minutes to go, the top 5 were separated by a margin of 1.5 seconds, as drivers constantly traded places within the top 5, as Verstappen seemingly solidified his position at P1.
Teams opted to switch to the soft compounds, as the session neared its end, as drivers attempted to beat Verstappen’s time and claim P1 in FP1. The session had outstanding performances from Sainz and Vettel as the two were often in the top 3 positions throughout most of the session.
With 10 minutes to go, Valtteri Bottas overtook Verstappen for P1, in a shock result given the disappointing results from Mercedes throughout the session. Hamilton also attempted for P1 but failed while attempting to utilize the slipstream from Nicholas Latifi.
Turn 7 troubled its first driver this week, in the form of Charles Leclerc, as the Monagesque briefly went off into the gravel, bringing out the yellow flags for a short while in the session.
Towards the end of the session, Bottas missed the pit entry after skidding on track, due to the changing track conditions, leading to less grip available at certain parts of the circuit.
The top 10 classification for FP1 is as follows:
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||1:45.199|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||+0.164|
|3||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||+0.500|
|4||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari||+0.619|
|5||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Scuderia Ferrari||+0.736|
|6||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||+0.928|
|7||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||+0.978|
|8||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes||+1.137|
|9||Estaban Ocon||Alpine Renault||+1.298|
|10||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||+1.413|