Published: Sat, August 26, 2017
Sports | By Phillip Butler

Kimi Raikkonen pips Lewis Hamilton to top spot in FP1

Kimi Raikkonen pips Lewis Hamilton to top spot in FP1

Team boss Toto Wolff initially defended the team play but subsequently told La Gazzetta dello Sport that Mercedes may "have to adjust", given that Ferrari is putting all its eggs in the Vettel basket.

Refreshed from an August break in the Caribbean, including a trip to Cuba in his role as UNICEF ambassador, the Mercedes driver is 14 points behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel as he revs up for the second half of the season.

"For sure we can go faster".

Finnish veteran Kimi Raikkonen believes he can still win races and fight for Formula One championships after agreeing a contract extension keeping him at Ferrari next season.

That would be a symbolic milestone to reach, with Spa also marking the 25th anniversary of Schumacher's first grand prix win, but Hamilton's thoughts were focused on the task at hand.

Britain and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton now trails Sebastian Vettel by 14 points in this year's championship and insists he feels as hungry as ever to achieve further success despite his longevity in the sport.

"It came to a point in Silverstone when Lewis said: 'I'm going to pull him along with me.' It's just an underlying respect for the other individual and the other race driver".

McLaren driver Vandoorne joined Hamilton and Sauber's Marcus Ericsson in trialling the controversial halo cockpit protection device at the start of FP1, with Vandoorne and Hamilton returning to the pits at the end of their outlap while Ericsson continued onto a second. Although he said the balance of his vehicle was not quite ideal, the four-time champion said the onus was on him to adapt his driving ahead of Saturday's qualifying session. "I just love the track and it'll be nice seeing so many orange (Dutch) fans in the grandstands", he said.

"The last race is one of the best examples of it, how great the team is now (Bottas first allowing Hamilton past, and the place being returned despite the loss of points)".

Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who was 1.32 seconds off the leading pace, was sixth in the second Red Bull ahead of Nico Hulkenberg of Renault, Esteban Ocon of Force India, Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso and Briton Jolyon Palmer in the second Renault.

"I think the [championship] gap between us and Ferrari and Mercedes is too big to claw back", he said.

"We have had quite a lot in the first part of the season on this side, but I think we are taking care for it to not happen again".

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