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Belgian GP Practice One: Sebastian Vettel fastest for Ferrari at Spa

Sky Sports | Updated: 2018-08-24 20:00:33

Sebastian Vettel edged out Max Verstappen in first practice at the Belgian GP as F1 returned to the track following the sport’s unexpectedly eventful summer break.

On the morning title rivals Ferrari and Mercedes introduced upgraded engines, Vettel topped a Practice One session for the first time this season with a best lap of 1:44.358 to give the Scuderia the perfect start to a Spa weekend Sky F1's Martin Brundle has labelled a "must-win" event for the team.

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Ferrari and Mercedes are expected to fight it out for top honours on a circuit that heavily rewards engine power but Red Bull's Verstappen was second-quickest on Friday morning ahead of championship leader Lewis Hamilton in the lead W09.

"Ferrari were right on it but Mercedes are right there too," said Brundle.

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Hamilton was three tenths back on Vettel and just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.

Bottas' weekend, however, has already been compromised by a big engine penalty for exceeding power unit limits for the season.

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After stunning the sport with news of his 2019 Renault move during the summer break, Daniel Ricciardo made a low-key return to action for Red Bull as engine problems restricted his mileage to one timed lap at the end of the session.

"It looks like a fuel injection issue," said Christian Horner to Sky F1.

Fernando Alonso, who is quitting the sport at the end of the year, sat out the opening session while McLaren trialed British youngster Lando Norris as they continue to evaluate their options for next season.

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The 18-year-old enjoyed an accomplished F1 practice debut and finished fractionally faster than team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne on slower tyres, although the Belgian's session was beset by reliability problems on his MCL33 and he finished slowest of all.

Meanwhile, although technically a 'new' team, Force India returned to the circuit for the first time since the outfit's change in ownership and enjoyed an encouraging start to the weekend, with Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez seventh and ninth-fastest respectively.

Force India and Williams are also running Mercedes' new 'Spec Three' engine this weekend.

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg was ninth, but he will join Bottas in starting Sunday's race from the back of the field after also exceeding engine allowances for the season.

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