Sebastian Vettel led Kimi Raikkonen in the final practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix as an incident between Stoffel Vandoorne and Valtteri Bottas caused a red flag.
With 10 minutes remaining in the session, Vandoorne was trying to gain a slipstream from teammate Fernando Alonso on the Kemmel Straight but the pair had been split by Bottas on the run to Eau Rouge. Exiting Raidillon at the top of the hill, Vandoorne moved to the left to overtake the Mercedes but Bottas hadn’t seen the Belgian and also drifted left, forcing the McLaren onto the grass and into a high-speed spin.
Vandoorne’s car spun across the track and brushed the barrier with the rear wing before coming to a halt facing the barrier, bringing out the red flag that left just two minutes of running possible when the session resumed.
As a result of the stoppage, a number of drivers were unable to complete final low fuel attempts on a cold day at Spa-Francorchamps, leaving the two Ferrari drivers — quickest throughout the session and closely matched — at the top of the times.
Vettel’s time of 1m42.661s left him just 0.063s clear of teammate Raikkonen, while Lewis Hamilton was only 0.137s slower than the German as qualifying looks set to be a close battle between the trio. Bottas was fourth fastest but could receive a penalty for the Vandoorne incident that is under investigation, although he is already due to start from the back of the grid due to a power unit penalty.
The two Red Bulls got laps in at the end of the session but traffic meant their times were not fully representative, with Max Verstappen nearly 1.4s off the pace in fifth and Daniel Ricciardo was 0.4s further back but didn’t improve on the supersoft tire, with his best lap coming on the softs.
Seventh was Charles Leclerc as Sauber continues to look competitive at Spa, but Sergio Perez in eighth and Esteban Ocon 10th — separated by Nico Hulkenberg — both also set their best times on the soft compound rather than the supersoft.
The incident with Bottas and Vandoorne left the two McLarens bottom of the timing screens — with Alonso a little over 0.1s ahead of his teammate — directly behind the Williams pair of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin.
Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley were just ahead of the two Williams cars, with Gasly suffering a comedic spin when exiting the pit lane when the session resumed with two minutes remaining, swapping ends on cold tires and rolling backwards onto to the circuit before rejoining.