Mixed First Day In Belgium For Mercedes

2021 Belgian Grand Prix, Friday - Valtteri Bottas (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)
2021 Belgian Grand Prix, Friday - Valtteri Bottas (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

Valtteri Bottas was fastest in FP1, while Lewis Hamilton finished P18 after he was held up into the final chicane on his qualifying simulation on the Soft tyre on the opening day of the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix.

Rain before FP1 prompted an exploratory install lap on Inters, before swiftly switching to Slick tyres, where the focus was on long runs and investigating balance options.

Fast Start For Valtteri Bottas

It was P2 for Valtteri Bottas in the second practice session, with his teammate Lewis Hamilton close behind. Just 0.072s separated the top three drivers in FP2.

‘Everything felt pretty good out there today. As we saw from the timesheets, it’s going to be very close with Red Bull once again so we’ll look into the detail tonight and see what marginal gains we can find. The pace on both the short and the long runs was pretty decent. It’s always tricky to compare in detail from the practice sessions, but at least the feeling is good, so that is a positive start to the weekend. We looked quite fast on the straights with the wing level we ran and in the race, it’ll be important for me to be quick in sectors one and three, to make the overtakes. But then, if it rains, you want more downforce. So, session by session, we need to see how it is going to look. That decision will be key for Qualifying,’ said Bottas.

2021 Belgian Grand Prix, Friday - Valtteri Bottas (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)
2021 Belgian Grand Prix, Friday – Valtteri Bottas (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

Lewis Hamilton Still Finding Balance

With his FP1 times compromised due to traffic, it was a mixed day for Lewis Hamilton, who is still trying to find the right balance ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.

‘Finding the right balance here is a big challenge. In FP1, we tried one way, and then we changed it this afternoon. The pace was quite similar – you try one option, and you are faster in the first and third sectors, but slower in the middle. And then you try the other option and it’s the opposite. So, figuring out the right balance is really tricky. It’s also tough to gain knowledge in these short sessions but we’re navigating it the best we can and at least it was dry for most of the running. Overall, it was an okay day, but I didn’t quite have the car underneath me, so we’ve got some work to do tonight to figure that out. The weather is also going to play a big role. If it does rain, you obviously want more downforce, but then if it doesn’t rain, you are a sitting duck on the straights. So we have to be very careful with the changes we make,’ added Hamilton.

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