Reigning world champion and championship leader Max Verstappen set a blistering pace in the second practice session at the Belgian Grand Prix, heading Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and McLaren racer Lando Norris. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on Free Practice Two at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The session started in tricky conditions again. Although there was no rain when the green lights went on in the second practice session, there were several damp patches mainly in the middle sector of the 7.004km Spa-Francorchamps track.
Max Verstappen set the pace with a time of 1m 46.850s on Pirelli’s yellow-walled medium tyres at the beginning of the session before producing a stunning performance on the red-walled softs to top the timesheets in the late afternoon session. Verstappen’s benchmark of 1m45.507s was 0.862s quicker than what Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was able to achieve. The Monegasque was the only driver to be within a second of Verstappen’s time.
Commenting his perfect day at Spa, Verstappen said: “From the first laps we did today I could feel that the car was working well, so that’s positive. Not much really changed throughout the sessions, we just looked at how we could set up the car in the best possible way and I think as soon as we went out, the car was looking pretty good.”
Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz appeared to be quick on the medium tyres at the beginning of the session, but was unable to extract the maximum out of his car on the red-walled softs, finishing down in P5.
McLaren’s Lando Norris too k third, but he was over a second adrift of Verstappen’s benchmark. The Briton, who was in contention for pole position at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, and Friday’s two fastest drivers Verstappen and Leclerc will be hit with grid penalties for Sunday’s grand prix after exceeding their power unit allocation with engine changes at Spa-Francorchamps.
Aston Martin reverted to traditional endplate design on its rear wings for Spa after its innovative solution raised some eyebrows at the Hungarian Grand Prix a few weeks ago. The Silverstone based team’s Canadian driver Lance Stroll ended up fourth fastest with his team mate Sebastian Vettel only took 15th.
The four-time world champion, who announced his retirement from the sport just days prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix, said that he „struggled a little bit in the second session – I did not really feel very confident with the car – but I am pretty sure tomorrow will be better.”
Mercedes brought a series of upgrades to Spa including an interesting low-drag rear wing that features an upper cut-out on its endplate. After scoring the first pole position of the season and a third successive pole position at the Hungaroring, the team appeared to lack pace at Spa with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell taking 6th and 7th fastest.
Commenting on his day, the seven-time world champion said: "We're going out and giving it everything we've got. It could be tyres, it could be tyre temps, it could be wing level. It could be a multitude of things.
"It doesn't feel disastrous out there. It's just we're a long way off. But we often find this on the Friday and things change a little bit more on Saturday. So I hope that that's the case."
Fernando Alonso might have caused a big stir in the summer break by announcing his departure from Alpine, but he was fully back in his mind to get the best out of his car at the first race of the remaining nine grands prix in 2022. The Spaniard found himself in seventh with his teammate Esteban Ocon taking P16th. The Frenchman had a difficult day as he missed most of FP1 with a mechanical issue.
Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez had a troublesome start to his weekend with finishing down in P10 in the second session. The Mexican said: „We didn’t have the rhythm out there today and part of that was down to the conditions, but we also had a little issue with the rear wing, so we stopped for some time but that was resolved. Our time on track wasn’t ideal today due to the weather, especially on the final lap of FP2 on the soft tyre when things were a bit on the damper side.”
Williams has an encouraging day as Alexander Albon secured the 11th spot, finding himself in the middle of the close midfield. His teammate took 19th with his best time over a second adrift of what Albon managed.
Asked about his experiences in the two Friday sessions, Albon said: „The new track changes and tarmac is helping us by giving a little bit more grip. I think we’re in a good place. Balance wise we’re more or less there. Still a bit of work to do for tomorrow but for a Friday it’s been pretty good.”
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda ended up 13th fastest, edging his teammate Pierre Gasly, who handed over his car to Liam Lawson for the opening practice.
„We didn’t have the rhythm out there today and part of that was down to the conditions, but we also had a little issue with the rear wing, so we stopped for some time but that was resolved. Our time on track wasn’t ideal today due to the weather, especially on the final lap of FP2 on the soft tyre when things were a bit on the damper side,” said the Frenchman.
Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu set the 12th fastest time of the session while his teammate Valtteri Bottas found himself down in 18th after missing most of the running in the first practice session due to reliability issues.
Commenting on his day, Bottas said: „The main limitation today was the grip levels, especially when I switched to the hard tyres, which are a big step from the soft: it’s nothing to worry about, though, I fully expect to figure it out tomorrow with a few more laps. We had a hydraulic leak in the first session and rain compromised the running towards the end of FP2, so hopefully we can get a bit more track time in the final practice session.”
After stopping on track in FP1 with a battery problem, Kevin Magnussen returned to action in FP2, but his best time was only good enough for 17th. His team mate Mick Schumacher finished the session in 20th.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:45.507||19|
|3||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:46.589||+1.082s||15|
|4||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:46.635||+1.128s||16|
|7||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:46.975||+1.468s||18|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:47.255||+1.748s||17|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:47.346||+1.839s||14|
|11||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:47.520||+2.013s||15|
|12||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:47.617||+2.110s||20|
|13||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:47.658||+2.151s||15|
|14||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:47.782||+2.275s||18|
|15||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:47.867||+2.360s||18|
|16||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:47.944||+2.437s||20|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:48.208||+2.701s||18|
|18||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:48.419||+2.912s||20|
|19||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:48.612||+3.105s||14|
|20||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:49.941||+4.434s||22|