Unusually for Spa, hot weather characterised both free practice sessions in the foothills of the Ardennes, with ambient temperatures peaking at 35 degrees centigrade and to 44 degrees asphalt in the afternoon. The teams ran all three nominated compounds today – medium, soft, and supersoft – with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen going fastest of all in the afternoon on the supersoft tyre, with a time of 1m48.085s that shattered last year’s FP2 benchmark of 1m49.385s.
Nico Rosberg already beat that benchmark in FP1, where he made Formula 1 history by going fastest in an official session for the first time with a halo device fitted. Then, in FP2 both Mercedes drivers didn’t run supersoft tyres.
In addition, some drivers sampled Pirelli’s new prototype tyres, with two additional sets each per car allocated for Friday only. These soft compound tyres contain elements that help to resist multiple impacts, as part of Pirelli’s ongoing development programme. The data from these tyres will now be analysed, with a view to using them in future.
With Spa being the longest lap of the year by some margin, the supersoft contained a notable performance advantage: now in excess of 1.2 seconds. This means that the softest tyre available looks set to be the default choice for qualifying, making it very important for the teams to gather as much wear data as possible today in preparation for the grand prix. If the hot weather continues throughout the weekend, the information collected today should have a direct correlation to qualifying tomorrow and the race on Sunday.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “The teams were all able to accumulate a lot of relevant information that will be valuable when it comes to formulating their strategies for the race, with the supersoft being used at Spa for the first time this year. If the hot weather continues, as we saw some quite high degradation today, tyre management will be very important on Sunday. For today only, some drivers also made use of our prototype tyres, which were soft compound tyres containing certain new elements that are designed to further improve resistance to multiple impacts. This is part of our ongoing development plan, and we will now look at the data obtained to evaluate if these elements will be used in future.
Practice One Times
Practice Two Times
FP1 – Best time per compound
FP2 – Best time per compound
Longest stints of the day
Tyre statistics of the day
* The above number gives the total amount of kilometres driven in FP1 and FP2 today, all drivers combined.
** Per compound, all drivers combined.
Minimum prescribed tyre pressures: 23,5 psi (front); 22 psi (rear)
Pirelli fact of the day: The winning car at the Spa 24 Hours in Belgium last month, which was exclusively supplied by Pirelli, covered a total of 531 laps: or more than 3717 kilometres. By contrast, the winner on Sunday will only be expected to cover 44 laps: around 12 times less distance. However, the F1 cars are travelling a lot quicker: pole position for the Spa 24 Hours was 2m17.671s.