Hamilton: Spa Friday practice one of Mercedes' strongest in 2017

Kimi Raikkonen

Vettel's contract at Ferrari is up for...

The 37-year-old Raikkonen has not won a race since his return to Ferrari, and he lies fifth in the drivers' championship, 86 points behind teammate Sebastian Vettel, who leads the standings.

"The one thing that's for sure, and the most prominent thing, is that I am here for blood".

Mercedes have won the last two Belgian Grands Prix, with now-retired 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg triumphant from pole a year ago after Hamilton won in 2015.

Lewis Hamilton can certainly count himself among them and it is apt he should be starting his 200th grand prix at Spa.

"I think the track will suit the Mercedes, as will Monza, so I am optimistic of a good result in both races".

"My first grand prix was such a huge highlight".

Vettel's title advantage is partly down to this given the Ferrari, though it started the year as a marginally faster vehicle, is nearly certainly no longer superior to the Mercedes, and the constructors standings prove it: the Silver Arrows leads the Scuderia by 39 points at the halfway mark.


First practice gets underway at 9am, followed by the second at 1pm BST.

The Mercedes driver, who can equal Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 68 pole positions in Saturday's qualifying, lapped the longest track on the calendar with a best time of one minute 44.753 seconds. 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.

After the cars came back out, the session promptly became an ongoing duel between Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo, with Valtteri Bottas and Raikkonen also keeping themselves in the picture.

"Coming into this season I haven't changed a single thing that I do, but there is another new element in the team and it works".

Spa can often be a lottery, with its capricious weather, and rain could be a boon for Red Bull's Belgian-born Dutch teenager Max Verstappen, who can count on plenty of local support in what amounts to a home race.

Ferrari are putting their best efforts to retain their star driver for the next three seasons. Ferrari, he claims, have learned the lesson of the drubbing at Silverstone, which as a circuit shares many of Spa's characteristics without the descents and climbs, and though he concedes Mercedes have an edge, he expects Ferrari to be closer.

Asked if Mercedes had an advantage over Ferrari after Friday's running, he added: "I don't think so".

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