World Champion Lewis Hamilton believes several teams are “very close” in terms of performance at Formula 1’s Belgian Grand Prix, following the conclusion of Friday’s action.
Less than a tenth of a second covered leader Max Verstappen, nearest rival Daniel Ricciardo, and third-placed Hamilton during the afternoon running at Spa-Francorchamps.
Esteban Ocon, who classified in eighth position, was within half a second of Verstappen, in a group that included representatives from Racing Point and McLaren.
“It’s very close out there,” said Hamilton. “I think the Red Bulls are just a little bit quicker at the moment, but even Racing Point I think is right with us, then also Daniel Ricciardo and Renault are very close.
“That makes it exciting. We’ve got some work to do, that’s for sure, to dial in the car a bit more, but it doesn’t feel bad at all.
“As I anticipated coming into this weekend, it’s only the seventh race, the field is going to get closer as we continue to develop, the whole of F1 develops and it’s already showing that this weekend.
“We seem to be so close with everyone, and we’ve got to understand why: whether they’ve taken a step or we’ve taken a step back, or if it’s just track layout, or downforce level, who knows, we’ll work on that. But I’m excited for an interesting race.”
Spa-Francorchamps is widely revered as one of Formula 1’s greatest circuits and Hamilton extolled the track’s characteristics after the session.
“It’s so rapid here,” he said. “Every year our cars get faster and faster, particularly with this generation of car.
“I mean already last year the car was pretty spectacular here but it’s pretty phenomenal the speeds we can go through corners.
“It’s all about the little nuances that you have to change in terms of the driving style and how you approach corners now that you have more downforce.
“Pouhon’s flat out, it’s hair-raising, crazy.”