F1 practice LIVE: Carlos Sainz fastest in Belgian Grand Prix first practice with Lewis Hamilton ninth

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Daniel Ricciardo reacts to McLaren’s ‘bittersweet’ exit

The Formula 1 season returns after the summer break this weekend with the Belgian Grand Prix at the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit with Max Verstappen 80 points ahead of Charles Leclerc in the standings.

The 2021 world champion has won eight of the first 13 races this season, the last of which came at the Hungarian Grand Prix a month ago after a dominating performance as the Belgian-Dutch stormed the field from P10 . Lewis Hamilton finished second – his fifth consecutive podium – while poleman George Russell had to settle for third.

This means Russell has passed Carlos Sainz in the overall standings, with Sergio Perez third and Hamilton sixth. The next race will come after big news at the end of the summer break with Daniel Ricciardo leaving McLaren at the end of this season, paving the way for Oscar Piastri to move to McLaren after the 2021 F2 champion drastically rejected a seat at Alpine.

With Audi confirming its entry into F1 for 2026 on Friday morning at Spa, the action on the track begins this afternoon: the first tests take place at 1pm (BST) and the second at 4pm (BST).

Follow all the action as it unfolds with The Independent:

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F1 Testing – Belgian Grand Prix: Audi to join Formula 1 from 2026 as powertrain supplier

Audi will join Formula 1 from 2026 as a powertrain supplier, following an announcement on Friday morning. New F1 The powertrain regulations for 2026 – with increased electric power and 100% sustainable fuels – have been designed to make entry into the sport more attractive for newcomers and the German manufacturer is the first confirmed new entry in four years. .

Audi says it will announce a decision on which team it “will line up with in 2026 by the end of this year”, with the company set to take a majority stake in the Swiss-backed company. Sauber (currently racing as Alfa Romeo) and register as a full maker.

“I am delighted to welcome Audi to Formula 1, an iconic, pioneering and technologically innovating automotive brand,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali during a launch at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

“This is a major moment for our sport that highlights the enormous strength we have as a global platform that continues to grow. sustainability in 2026 is a future-proof solution for the automotive sector. We are all eager to see the Audi logo on the grid and we will hear more details about their plans in due course.”

Audi – which are part of the volkswagen Group – supports F1’s plans to be more sustainable and profitable, with a cost cap for power unit manufacturers introduced in 2023 and F1 setting a target to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030 .

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F1 tests – Belgian Grand Prix: Carlos Sainz the fastest in FP1!

carlos sainz comes out on top in FP1, with his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc second and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third!

Russell 4th, Stroll 5th, Albon 6th, Ricciardo 7th, Tsunoda 8th, Hamilton 9th, Perez 10th.

Liam Lawson, driving Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri, finished 19th on the timesheets as Valtteri Bottas failed to set a time in his Alfa Romeo.

(Getty Images)

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F1 tests – Belgian Grand Prix: Rain on the track!

It was raining on the track to conclude the session, which meant that all the riders on slicks took it easy trying to keep the car on the gravel.

That will be all for EL1 at Spa-Francorchamps!

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F1 tests – Belgian Grand Prix: Green flag!

We are back on track eight minutes from the end of this first practice session!

Max Verstappen was told by his engineer that there was “a risk” of showers in the final stages of FP1! The World Championship leader is now third on the timesheet, behind the Ferrari duo.

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F1 testing – Belgian Grand Prix: 15 minutes to do in FP1!

We are still in red flag conditions with Magnussen’s car having issues with the high voltage system – at the moment the car is still powered up and it is not safe to get on the truck!

carlos sainz leads the standings with Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc second and Verstappen third. George Russell is fourth with Lewis Hamilton ninth!

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F1 Testing – Belgian Grand Prix: RED FLAG!

Kevin Magnussen pulled over on the track sideways after Turn 1, looks like he has an engine problem in his Haas!

The session is stopped 22 minutes from the end as they seek to eliminate the Danish driver!

In the meantime, we expect the following to take engine penalties this weekend: Verstappen, Leclerc, Norris, Ocon, Bottas, Schumacher. Everyone except Schumacher (loss of 10 places) will fall to the back of the grid…

(Getty Images)

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F1 Testing – Belgian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen prepares to start the Belgian Grand Prix from the back of the grid

Max Verstappen is set to start the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday from the back of the grid. The championship leader, 80 points ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, is set to adopt a new engine in the rear of his Red Bull which will see him downgraded to the rear.

Ferrari driver Leclerc is also believed to be considering an engine change for Sunday’s round – a move that would relegate him to the back.

Verstappen and Leclerc will be hoping the high-speed nature of the Spa Francorchamps track will give them the opportunity to battle it out on the pitch.

The looming penalties will give Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team a boost as the seven-time world champion looks to claim his first win of the campaign.

Hamilton headed into the summer stoppage after five consecutive podium finishes, including back-to-back second-place finishes in recent rounds in France and Hungary. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc leads Max Verstappen by 80 points.

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F1 testing – Belgian Grand Prix: 30 minutes past!

Verstappen still leads with 1.6 seconds on the soft tyres, with Lewis Hamilton second on the mediums. Sergio Perez is third, also on medium tyres.

It looks like Esteban Ocon’s session is over, he got out of the car and complains about a problem with the driveshaft.

The Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are fourth and fifth respectively…

(AFP via Getty Images)

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F1 practice – Belgian Grand Prix: 15 minutes passed!

Max Verstappen is the fastest of the first riders, two seconds quicker than Lando Norris in second! His outgoing McLaren teammate Lando Norris is third at the start; Leclerc 4th; Sainz 5th.

Little scare in the pit lane with Nicholas Latifi dropped by his mechanics right in the path of Verstappen, who had to go right to avoid the Williams!

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have yet to set times, while Esteban Ocon has a problem with his Alpine…

(AFP via Getty Images)

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F1 testing – Belgian Grand Prix: FP1 is underway!

The cars are on track at Spa-Francorchamps in overcast weather in the Ardennes forest!

Alex Albon reports on his team radio that the track is for the moment completely dry, despite the dark clouds above our heads!

Remember that Liam Lawson is in Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri for his first race in Formula 1!

(Getty Images)

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