Belgian GP | Raikkonen tops FP3 from Ricciardo

Kimi Raikkonen tops the final practice session at the Belgian Grand Prix

Flying in the final sector, the Iceman topped the final practice session as Verstappen hit trouble and Hamilton focused on race pace. Ricciardo had topped the timesheet prior to Kimi’s lap, but the Ferrari’s strong final sector left them one-three at the flag. 

The final practice session saw varying teams face varying issues, with Friday pace setter, Verstappen, stable bound with a power issue. Verstappen had already taken on his race gearbox ahead of FP3, but as he set about posting a flying lap the Dutchman lost drive and was forced to pit.

Once in the garage, Verstappen’s Red Bull mechanics immediately removed his engine cover and began searching for the cause. A search that included taking the gearbox out.

Throughout the session, Marcus Ericsson too had power issues preventing the Swede from carrying out any runs longer than an install lap. The team were, however, able to send Ericsson out with five minutes remaining to set a timed lap.

Late times set by the Ferrari’s showed the Italian outfit to be strong in the final sector as Raikkonen built his advantage over Ricciardo in the final third.

Kimi’s best lap of the session was down on the Australian through sector two. But a strong end to the lap left Raikkonen atop the leaderboard by two-seconds.

Vettel, too, was fast in the final sector although ended the hour in third place. Sebastian, though, let his frustrations boil over with Magnussen earlier in the session as the Dane overtook Vettel through Blanchimont – leading Vettel to radio in: “What an idiot. Did you see that? It’s called Free Practice. Free Practice. Who gives a sh*t?”

Vettel was not the only driver to radio in his frustrations, with Wehrlein frustrated with Gutierrez’s slow line through Raidillon.

Esteban had been first to exit the pits as the session went green, but after posting an early timed lap opted to carry a slow line on his subsequent lap. Wehrlein, however, was forced to take to the grass at Raidillon as he caught Gutierrez going slowly on the racing line.

“****ing idiot, what is he doing?” groaned Wehrlein. “Even if it’s just practice that should get a penalty. Unbelievable!” The incident was referred to the stewards, who confirmed they would investigate it after the session.

With a 30-place grid penalty already in the bank for Hamilton going into Saturday, his Mercedes crew handed their driver a further 25-place grid drop as they installed more components overnight.

Hamilton is now on his sixth Internal Combustion Engine, sixth MGU-K, eighth MGU-H and eighth turbocharger. Altogether, the power unit changes leave Hamilton with a 55-place grid penalty and the Briton will start the Belgian Grand Prix from the back of the grid.

With his starting spot at the back of the grid, Hamilton focused on race pace rather than qualifying simulations in the final practice session. But after 14-laps on a set of softs, Hamilton was running two seconds off the pace wanted by his team although that was all he was able to do.

In the closing stages, Hamilton returned to the track for a short flying run. Moving himself up to fifth and ahead of team-mate Rosberg, but half a second down on the pace-setting Raikkonen.

Track limits had become a theme of the final practice session with Perez and Ocon amongst the drivers warned for track limits at turn 4 (Eau Rouge). Perez was told if he had carried the same line in qualifying, his time would have been deleted.

Pos Driver Laps Time Gap
1 Kimi Raikkonen 11 1’47.974
2 Daniel Ricciardo 18 1’48.189 0.215
3 Sebastian Vettel 12 1’48.297 0.323
4 Valtteri Bottas 17 1’48.504 0.53
5 Lewis Hamilton 20 1’48.635 0.661
6 Nico Hulkenberg 12 1’48.739 0.765
7 Nico Rosberg 19 1’48.742 0.768
8 Felipe Massa 21 1’48.783 0.809
9 Sergio Perez 12 1’48.915 0.941
10 Romain Grosjean 16 1’49.272 1.298
11 Fernando Alonso 9 1’49.453 1.479
12 Esteban Gutierrez 16 1’49.631 1.657
13 Jenson Button 10 1’49.665 1.691
14 Kevin Magnussen 11 1’49.716 1.742
15 Pascal Wehrlein 15 1’49.761 1.787
16 Daniil Kvyat 9 1’50.023 2.049
17 Carlos Sainz Jr. 9 1’50.078 2.104
18 Jolyon Palmer 11 1’50.241 2.267
19 Felipe Nasr 13 1’50.420 2.446
20 Esteban Ocon 18 1’50.693 2.719
21 Marcus Ericsson 5 1’51.319 3.345
22 Max Verstappen 2