Raikkonen finds few surprises at Spa on Friday

26 August, 2017, 00:40 | Author: Felix Jensen
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On the so-called race-simulation runs, when teams fill up their tanks with fuel and practise the first part of the race, Vettel was 0.7secs on average quicker than Hamilton, with Bottas a further 0.1secs back.

Vettel, who leads Hamilton in the title race by 14 points as the sport returns to action following its four-week hiatus here in Belgium, is out of contract with Ferrari at the end of the year. If I did not feel that I can go fast I wouldn't be happy in myself.

But Hamilton appeared unconvinced that Vettel, who enjoys clear number one status at Ferrari, will replace Bottas next season. But team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne endured a smoother session and finished 10th, although the Belgian is braced for a 35-place grid penalty at his maiden home grand prix.

Hamilton has won twice before at Spa, as has Vettel, but the track - a classic blast from the past - has not been particularly kind to him.

Should Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole he will equal Schumacher's record of 61 pole positions at the very circuit where the seven times world champion made his debut 26 years ago in a Jordan, and a year later for Benetton took the first of his 91 grand prix victories.

Hamilton now trails Sebastian Vettel by 14 points in this year's championship and insists he feels as hungry as ever to achieve further success despite his longevity in the sport.

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The Brit racer now has Valtteri Bottas as a team-mate, but Vettel could be available for a transfer come the end of the current campaign. "For sure we can go faster, and then on Saturday afternoon we will see". We just need to find the right balance.

"I think a favorite would probably be a wet race. when you've come from 10th or fourth and you outsmart the guys ahead of you and exploit the auto as no-one thought you could". Bottas also had a odd moment where he was allowing a vehicle on a flying lap through at Turn 13 but ended up hitting the barrier.

"Coming into this season I haven't changed a single thing that I do but there is a new element in the team and it works".

Max Verstappen used his ultra-softs to jump ahead of Ricciardo with 20 minutes remaining, as the Red Bull ended up 0.8s slower than Raikkonen.

Hamilton added: "It's highly unlikely he'll be here". "I just love the track and it'll be nice seeing so many orange (Dutch) fans in the grandstands", he said.


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