Sainz pips Leclerc, Verstappen in first practice at the Belgian GP 2022


Sainz wins first practice at the Belgian GP 2022

Carlos Sainz edged out Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc to the fastest time in rain-disrupted opening practice for the Belgian Grand Prix, the first track action since F1 returned from its summer break.

The Spaniard clocked a 1m 46.538s on the softs to finish 0.069s clear of Leclerc, who will start towards the back of the grid after Ferrari made engine component changes that exceed his allocation.

Championship leader Max Verstappen was third quickest, with the Mercedes of George Russell fourth and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll fifth.

Intermediates were the tyres of choice when the session got going for installation laps, with persistent light rain peppering Spa throughout the morning. But conditions improved quickly to the point that slicks were soon bolted on.

Sainz Belgian GP 2022
Sainz Belgian GP 2022

Verstappen, who will also start towards the back of the grid after Red Bull fitted a suite of new engine components to trigger engine penalties, was the early pace-setter. But he was usurped by the Ferrari duo.

FORMULA 1 ROLEX BELGIAN GRAND PRIX 2022 – Practice 1 results

1  Carlos SAINZ Ferrari 1:46.538
2  Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.069s
3  Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.217s
4  George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.858s
5  Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.899s

But with 20 minutes to go, the session was red flagged after Kevin Magnussen was told to stop his Haas on track, on the hill down to Eau Rouge-Raidillon. Haas boss Guenther Steiner suggested it was a high voltage issue.

While the session got going again, an incoming rain shower meant no one else could improve.

Alex Albon was sixth, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo – who will leave McLaren at the end of the season after mutually agreeing with the team to end his contract early.

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda was eighth, with Liam Lawson – borrowing the second car for FP1 in place of Pierre Gasly for his first race weekend running, as part of the rules that dictate that all teams must run young drivers for at least two practice sessions – 19th.

Lewis Hamilton was ninth, ahead of Sergio Perez, with Nicholas Latifi in the second Williams 11th.

Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu asked for a new helmet after it was lifting up a lot on the straight. He ended up 12th, with his team mate Valtteri Bottas – who has engine penalties – failing to set a time in 20th.

Lando Norris, who joined the group of drivers with engine penalties, was 13th, ahead of world champions Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.

Esteban Ocon – who also has penalties for engine component changes – spent much of the session in the garage with an undisclosed problem, with Magnussen and Mick Schumacher, who has a grid penalty for a new control electronics and gearbox, 17th and 18th respectively.

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