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Belgian GP: Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel top practice sessions for Ferrari

Raikkonen was .168 ahead of Hamilton and nearly a half second clear of the British driver's Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas. 

Reported by: AP , SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium [ Published on: August 24, 2018 22:32 IST ]
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES

Kimi Raikkonen driving the (7) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track

Kimi Raikkonen posted the fastest time in second practice for the Belgian Grand Prix, offering Ferrari further encouragement after teammate Sebastian Vettel was quickest earlier on Friday. There is a third and final practice on Saturday ahead of qualifying, where Vettel needs a strong performance to put pressure on Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Raikkonen was .168 ahead of Hamilton and nearly a half second clear of the British driver's Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fourth quickest ahead of Vettel in mild but overcast afternoon conditions.

Hamilton leads the overall standings by 24 points from Vettel, but the 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) Spa circuit nestled in the Ardennes forest is well suited to Ferrari and gives the German driver a chance to hit back.

It is also good for overtaking, negating the usual overly-dominant position of the driver who takes pole position. Hamilton is F1's all-time record holder with 77 poles — nine more than Michael Schumacher and 22 ahead of Vettel.

Hamilton also leads Vettel in GP wins: 5-4 this season and 67-51 overall.

In first practice at lunchtime, Vettel was .151 seconds quicker than Verstappen and .318 clear of Hamilton. Raikkonen was fourth ahead of Bottas, who was penalized for too many engine changes and will start Sunday's race from the back of the grid.

Drivers are allowed to change each of the six engine parts twice in a season before incurring penalties. Multiple alterations were made to all six parts of Bottas' engine.

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg joins Bottas at the back of the grid after similar changes were made to his engine.

However, on a long and wide track good for overtaking, Bottas and Hulkenberg can fight their way through the field.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, hampered by an engine problem in P1, finished both sessions in sixth place.

Also in P1, British teen Lando Norris replaced Fernando Alonso for McLaren and was quicker than teammate Stoffel Vandoorne.

The 18-year-old Norris has impressed in F2 and is vying for an F1 seat at McLaren next year, while Vandoorne is fighting to keep his place.

In front of his home fans in Belgium, Vandoorne was last in both practice runs.

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