Raikkonen to drive again for Ferrari

Valtteri Bottas

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was third quickest ahead of Dutchman Max Verstappen of Red Bull and championship leader Vettel. No cake and no staged photographs, perhaps at Hamilton's request in view of not being distracted from his title charge.

Hamilton, who sportingly moved over for team-mate Bottas at the last round in Hungary to finish fourth, arrives here having finished on the podium just once in his last four outings. The two Red Bulls were separated by just 0.05s but were 0.8s shy of Raikkonen's time around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

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.

"You have to ask them", he said. "I thought about how many races I have left, and how many seasons I have left".

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"One thing for sure in this second part of the season.is that I'm here for blood". I am here to stay.

"When you're racing for so long, it's my 200th race, you would think that maybe your passion or your desire to win would fade, but it's stronger than ever". Vandoorne was also one of three drivers - also including Hamilton and Marcus Ericsson - to test the Halo cockpit protection device at the start of running.

The session was disrupted by a shunt for Williams' Felipe Massa, who was back in the vehicle for the first time since skipping the Hungarian Grand Prix due to dizziness. At one point, he proclaimed that he had "no interest in returning to Formula One".

"There have been so many unbelievable moments over these 10 years", Hamilton, 32, added. "It wasn't actually a great experience but it was still a highlight in my career", he said.

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"There have been so many highlights". My first grand prix win, Silverstone grand prix win, Monaco grand prix win. Winning the title in Brazil is still a highlight.

Should Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole he will equal Schumacher's record of 61 pole positions at the very circuit where the seven times world champion made his debut 26 years ago in a Jordan, and a year later for Benetton took the first of his 91 grand prix victories. He won his lone championship driving for the team 10 seasons ago back in 2007.

"As long as I feel myself that I can win races and fight for championships then that is why". With the chance of rain both Saturday and Sunday he may yet have the opportunity to once again overcome and he will hope, exploit. "It would probably be a wet race when you've really gone through a lot of difficulties because it is so hard in the wet conditions".

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