RACE DEBRIEF

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen led the second practice session of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, ending up a narrow 0.041s ahead of the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who himself was just 0.031s up on team mate Lewis Hamilton. But the session would end horribly for Verstappen, after he backed his Red Bull RB16B into the wall at Malmedy, prematurely calling time on FP2.

    In what was a dry FP2 session, Verstappen’s soft-shod qualifying run yielded the fastest lap of the weekend so far, as he logged a 1m 44.472s – a time good enough to put him just ahead of Bottas, who’d led Free Practice 1 this morning.

    FP1: Bottas leads Verstappen in damp first practice session for the Belgian GP at Spa

    But with just a handful of minutes to go, Verstappen rotated the car at Malmedy and backed it into the wall, bringing out a red flag as the session was ended early – with Red Bull now facing a tense wait to see how much damage has been done to the RB16B.

    Verstappen became the second driver to crash at the corner in the session, meanwhile, with Charles Leclerc ending up 18th after also coming a cropper at Malmedy with 20 minutes to go, bringing out the first red flag of the session.

    Formula 1 Rolex Belgian Grand Prix 2021

    Belgium 2021

    Practice 2 results

    POSITION TIME
    1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing 1:44.472
    2 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes +0.041s
    3 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes +0.072s
    4 Fernando Alonso ALO Alpine +0.481s
    5 Pierre Gasly GAS AlphaTauri +0.493s

    Away from that drama, and although Mercedes lagged slightly behind Verstappen on the timesheets, both drivers set their fastest laps on the medium tyres, leaving a suspicion that they may have been running a lower power setting for their qualifying simulation runs on the softs.

    Fresh from Alpine’s maiden win last time out, and having re-signed with the team for 2022, Fernando Alonso wound up P4 in the session, an impressive 0.440s off Verstappen’s time, with the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly just 0.012s further back, the Frenchman following up on his P3 from the morning session.

    READ MORE: Red Bull confirm Perez to stay with team for 2022

    Lance Stroll led a double top 10 appearance for Aston Martin in FP2 in P6, ahead of Hungary winner Esteban Ocon (who overcame a wild spin at the exit of Turn 13) and the second Aston of Sebastian Vettel, as McLaren’s Lando Norris took P9 ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez – who, it was announced over the lunch break, would remain with the team for 2022.

    Carlos Sainz was Ferrari’s leading driver in P11 ahead of the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda, around eight-tenths off his team mate Gasly.

    2021 Belgian Grand Prix: FP2 Highlights

    Alfa Romeo’s pairing of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen were next in P13 and P14, Raikkonen keeping his nose clean this time around after a scrappy FP1, as he finished ahead of the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo, another driver not yet on the pace of their team mate – Norris some 0.7s faster than the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix winner, although Ricciardo was help up by Nikita Mazepin on his fastest lap.

    Williams’ Nicholas Latifi finished ahead of team mate George Russell in P16 and P17, with Mazepin winning out the team battle at Haas over Mick Schumacher, as they rounded out the order in 19th and 20th behind Leclerc.

    READ MORE: Williams boss Capito hints team will keep Latifi for 2022

    So, Verstappen may have beaten the Mercedes on paper in FP2. But he’ll feel far from happy going into Friday evening, after a potentially very costly spin indeed ahead of Saturday and Sunday's action. Join us tomorrow on F1.com for coverage of final practice and qualifying.