FP2: Game on in Belgium as Verstappen leads Ricciardo and Hamilton in second practice
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was the surprise fastest runner in Free Practice 2 for the Belgian Grand Prix – although not quite as surprising as Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo taking P2, 0.048s behind Verstappen and just ahead of the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.
In a dry session, Verstappen stopped the clocks at 1m 43.744s around the 7.004km Spa-Francorchamps track, but a fine effort from Ricciardo saw him slot into second, while Hamilton took third, 0.096s behind Verstappen, the six-time champion having made a slight error at the final chicane on his fastest push lap.
Any joy Ricciardo might have felt about splitting Verstappen and Hamilton, however, was subsequently tempered by an issue which forced him to park up his R.S.20 on the Kemmel Straight with 20 minutes of the session left to run, his Renault suffering a loss of hydraulic pressure.
That incident brought out a Virtual Safety Car, while there was also a brief session stoppage 10 minutes from the end after an advertising panel dislodged itself, bringing out a red flag.
FORMULA 1 ROLEX BELGIAN GRAND PRIX 2020
Practice 2 results
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing
|2 Daniel Ricciardo RIC Renault
|3 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes
|4 Alexander Albon ALB Red Bull Racing
|5 Sergio Perez PER Racing Point
Alex Albon wasn’t quite able to match the one-lap pace of his team mate in the second Red Bull, but put in a decent effort to go fourth, 0.390s off Verstappen, and just 0.003s up on the Racing Point of Sergio Perez in fifth. Valtteri Bottas was sixth for Mercedes, having led FP1, while Lando Norris overcame an early power unit worry to take seventh for McLaren.
Rounding out the top 10 came the sister Renault and McLaren of Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz, while AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was 10th.
Meanwhile, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was 11th – his best lap set on mediums, having failed to improve on his time on his soft tyre run – while the second AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat was 12th.
Lower down the timesheets, it was humbling session for Ferrari, who after shrugging off their pace struggles in FP1, ended FP2 with Charles Leclerc in 15th and Sebastian Vettel 17th, with Leclerc nearly 1.7s off the pace at the track where he took pole last year – while Vettel was close to two seconds adrift.
Following their failure to set a lap this morning in FP1 after unrelated power unit issues struck both cars, Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen emerged from the pits for the first time 55 minutes into the session, having both had engine changes, before unsurprisingly ending up P19 and P20 – but presumably glad of the track time.
As was Antonio Giovinazzi, who similarly failed to set a time this morning after suffering a technical issue. He took a P13, one place ahead of team mate and four-time Spa winner Kimi Raikkonen – Alfa Romeo ending the session as the fastest Ferrari-powered team in FP2...
The Williams of George Russell found himself in the odd position of splitting the Ferraris in P16, with Nicholas Latifi narrowly behind Vettel in P18.
So, it looks as though a tightly-poised battle awaits us in Belgium – and with rain lurking around the track and Red Bull looking pacey, qualifying is set to be a fascinating contest.