SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Kimi Raikkonen led a Ferrari one-two in final practice for the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday with Formula One title rivals Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton separated by only a thousandth of a second.
The top three were in a league of their own, with Red Bull’s Dutch teenager Max Verstappen — who had a huge orange army of fans in attendance — fourth fastest but more than a second off the pace.
Raikkonen, a four-times winner in Belgium and with a contract for 2018 freshly signed, has been consistently quick this weekend and also set the fastest time in Friday’s opening practice.
He was second to Hamilton overall on Friday and his time of one minute 43.916 seconds was comfortably the fastest of the weekend and more than three seconds inside Vettel’s 2009 race lap record.
Vettel, 14 points ahead of Mercedes rival Hamilton after 11 of 20 races, was 0.197 slower than the Finn with a time of 1:44.113. Ferrari announced the German’s new three-year deal after the session.
Hamilton, who can equal Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 68 pole positions in later qualifying, clocked a best of 1:44.114.
“Ferrari’s competitive but let’s wait and see for qualifying — it’s going to be very close today,” said Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
“Normally we’re a little bit ahead, and now Ferrari’s ahead. Everyone can find a little bit of engine speed but, unfortunately, I think Ferrari can find the same engine speed as Mercedes can.”
Brazilian Felipe Massa returned for Williams, after doing only one lap on Friday before crashing. He was 16th on the timesheets.
Toro Rosso’s Russian Daniil Kvyat stopped on track with a loss of power. (Editing by Clare Fallon)