Raikkonen keeps Ferrari on top in Spa on Friday

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari SF71H. 24.08.2018. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix
© XPB 

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was fastest of anyone at the end of Friday's two practice sessions for the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

The Finn's best time was 1:43.355s, which was almost exactly a second faster than his team mate Sebastian Vettel had managed in topping the morning session.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was just over a tenth and a half slower than Raikkonen in FP2, with Valtteri Bottas almost three tenths further in arrears putting him just ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Vettel struggled to get a clean fast lap in after lunch, and was only fifth fastest ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull.

Belgian Grand Prix - Free Practice 2 times

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:43.355s 29
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:43.523s + 0.168s 28
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:43.803s + 0.448s 29
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:44.046s + 0.691s 25
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:44.129s + 0.774s 31
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:44.250s + 0.895s 31
7 Sergio Pérez Force India 1:44.662s + 1.307s 27
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:45.481s + 2.126s 29
9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:45.537s + 2.182s 24
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber 1:45.622s + 2.267s 25
11 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 1:45.753s + 2.398s 28
12 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:45.817s + 2.462s 29
13 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:45.935s + 2.580s 24
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:46.078s + 2.723s 29
15 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:46.080s + 2.725s 33
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:46.153s + 2.798s 28
17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:46.337s + 2.982s 35
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1:46.451s + 3.096s 35
19 Lance Stroll Williams 1:46.470s + 3.115s 34
20 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:46.496s + 3.141s 25

Conditions for the second practice session were much the same as they had been before lunch. Temperatures were slightly higher, and the earlier hint of rain in the air had dispelled.

Having missed out on almost the whole of FP1 with a suspected fuel injection issue, it was no surprise to see Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo among the first drivers to head out when the track went green.

The Australian's first flying lap clocked in at 1:46.161s on soft tyres, but that was soon bettered by Sebastian Vettel. Having been top in the morning, the Ferrari driver picked up where he had left off before the break and went fastest with 1:46.101s despite running on the medium compound.

His team mate Kimi Raikkonen had opted for the softs and so it was no surprise that he was soon able to go quicker than Vettel with a new benchmark of 1:44.400s. However he continued to query the power steering on his SF71H just as he had in the earlier session.

Mercedes were next to get down to business, Valtteri Bottas going second fastest before the medium-shod Lewis Hamilton went top with a time that was just 0.011s off Vettel's morning best. He was quicker still on his next lap before overshooting the Bus Stop and ruining his promising lap time.

After half an hour, the teams pulled the pin on their qualifying simulations. The two Ferraris switched to supersoft tyres and Raikkonen immediately delivered a new top time of 1:43.355s while Vettel was forced to ease off on his own initial run and subsequently locked up at La Source on his second.

Hamilton's first supersoft lap was good enough for second, 0.186s to put him between the two Finns at the top of the timing screens.

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari SF71H. 24.08.2018. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix

Ricciardo's continued to suffer from mechanical glitches, with his RB14 suffering gear sync issues during the session. That was still fast enough to jump him up to fourth fastest, before being bumped down again by an improved effort from Vettel, and then by an even better lap from his own team mate Max Verstappen.

An excellent lap on supersofts saw Sergio Perez push the resurrected Force India to seventh place. It was almost eighth tenths faster than Renault's Carlos Sainz and the two Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc.

Thereafter, teams switched their focus to long distance runs and tyre wear analysis. Hamilton was one of many drivers to struggle during this phase with frequent lock-ups, reporting that the rears were 'definitely struggling'. Bottas also suffered a big flat spot on the left front tyre in the closing minutes.

A number of drivers also complained of being stuck in traffic, despite Spa-Francorchamps being the longest circuit on the F1 calendar.

McLaren continued to struggle throughout the session on a circuit that doesn't suit the MCL33. Having had a series of issues in FP1, local boy Stoffel Vandoorne told the team than his car was 'undriveable' and he was recalled to the pits for a floor change which sidelined him for half an hour. Even so, he finished the session dead last.

Meanwhile his team mate Fernando Alonso was back in action having sat out the morning in favour of test and development driver Lando Norris. He was able to find enough pace to put him into 16th place, around a third of a second faster than Vandoorne.

However that doesn't bode well for the team making it beyond Q1 in tomorrow's qualifying session - unless rain plays a role in the proceedings, as it is currently forecast to do at least early in the day in final practice.

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