MEDIA RELEASE/McLaren Formula 1 Team - Main Photo: Supplied The McLaren Formula 1 team have…
Daniel Ricciardo’s move to Renault continued to be the topic of conversation as the Formula One circus geared up the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa. Ricciardo faced the media for the first time since the announcement of his move to Renault in 2018, although it was his fellow drivers, Carlos Sainz (whom Ricciardo will replace at Renault next year) and Fernando Alonso (the driver who reportedly declined the offer of a Red Bull drive and will be replaced at McLaren by Sainz) who grabbed the headlines.
Ricciardo was asked about his relationship with Max Verstappen and the Red Bull team to which Daniel explained that he had a good relationship with both and that all was fine within the team. At that time Sainz and Alonso were overhead to whisper their views on the Red Bull driver’s response. The conversation has since been shared across the globe. It seems that it will be a topic that won’t go away just yet.
As bright sunshine was slowly choked by an ever increasing cloud cover, drivers dusted off their helmets and headed out for Free Practice One. Daniel Ricciardo may have looked forward to the opportunity to put on the helmet and get out on track, but it wasn’t to be after an out lap triggered a lengthy stay in the garage as the Red Bull Team worked on an issue with the power unit. One may have expected that power units would be less of an issue for the Renault bound Australian. Set up time went begging and Ricciardo was left with just one flying lap near towards the end of the session. Despite just a total of four laps on the circuit, Ricciardo managed to post the 6th fastest time, just over a second shy of teammate Verstappen in second.
Sebastian Vettel topped the time sheets with a 1.44.358, some 2 seconds off the pole time from 2017, Max Verstappen took 2nd with Lewis Hamilton in 3rd. Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas completed the top 5. Segio Perez was an excellent 9th in the Force India, now known as Racing Point Force India. The ‘new team’ was granted permission to race in the 2018 Championship by the FIA, however the new name means that the 59 points scored by the former team to date have been made void by the arrangement.
Lando Norris made his Formula One debut for the McLaren team in Free Practice 1 as Fernando Alonso sat out the session. Noris lapped some 3 seconds slower than Vettel but finished ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne who posted the slowest time of the morning as he battled a brake issue throughout the early part of the session and completed just 13 laps compared to Norris’ 26.
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