FP2: Verstappen atop, but Mercedes with dominant race pace

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit de Spa-Francorchampsbe

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen topped the second session for the Belgian Grand Prix, but Mercedes seemingly held its pace back on the flying laps, showing dominant race pace during the long runs.

The first eleven minutes passed without a single car hitting the track. Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi became the first driver to head out on to the 7.004km circuit to have a first real taste of the famous Spa track. The Italian was hindered by a water leak problem on his car during the first free practice session.

The driver with the car number 99 posted a 1m49.716 for his first flying lap on the medium Pirelli rubber. Despite being o the White Hard compound, his team mate Kimi Räikkönen went by 3.3s faster to jump to the front of the timing board. On his second lap, Giovinazzi improved to 1m47.885.

Estaban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo took over the lead with their Renault R.S.20s before Red Bull’s Alexander Albon jumped to the top with a time of a 1m45.212.

Using his dominant car, Valtteri Bottas set the best lap with a time of 1m44.658 on the medium compound. Setting an absolute best time in the middle sector, Max Verstappen beat Bottas’ time to take over the lead. Hamilton used the hard compound for his first stint and set the second fastest time on his second timed lap, three tenths of a second behind the Dutchman.

Racing Point continued to impress with their Mercedes-inspired car with Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez conquering the fourth and fifth spot on the timing board.

With 49 minutes left on the clock, drivers started to head out on to the track with a fresh set of Red soft compound in a bid to simulate the qualifying session. Hamilton took over the lead, posting a time of 1m43.840, but Verstappen managed to usurp the lead by going 0.096s quicker then the defending champion.

Continuing his impressive showing during the second practice sessions, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo set the second fastest time to split Verstappen and Hamilton.

With 19 minutes to go, Ricciardo’s Renault R.S.20 suddenly slowed down on the Kemmel straight. The Australian parked his car on the best possible position, but the race direction needed to deploy virtual safety car. With just nine minutes left, the session was briefly stopped when debris was detected at Turn 1.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
133Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:43.744-21
23Daniel RicciardoRENAULT1:43.792+0.048s12
344Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:43.840+0.096s23
423Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA1:44.134+0.390s21
511Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:44.137+0.393s23
677Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:44.162+0.418s27
74Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT1:44.168+0.424s22
831Esteban OconRENAULT1:44.208+0.464s23
955Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT1:44.474+0.730s23
1010Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA1:44.600+0.856s27
1118Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:44.678+0.934s23
1226Daniil KvyatALPHATAURI HONDA1:44.826+1.082s26
1399Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:44.861+1.117s29
147Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:44.896+1.152s23
1516Charles LeclercFERRARI1:45.440+1.696s19
1663George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:45.463+1.719s25
175Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:45.683+1.939s21
186Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:45.774+2.030s26
198Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:45.834+2.090s12
2020Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:46.242+2.498s12