Kimi Raikkonen ensured Ferrari continued to lead the way as he set the fastest time of second practice for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
After Sebastian Vettel set the pace in FP1 earlier on Friday, Raikkonen posted a 1m43.355s to lead Lewis Hamilton by 0.168s. Both Ferrari and Mercedes are using updated power units at Spa this weekend, and it was the Ferrari that was faster in the first and third sectors — featuring long flat-out sections — while Hamilton set the pace in the more twisty middle part of the lap.
The championship leader was a little under 0.3s clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas — who will start from the back of the grid due to power unit penalties — with Max Verstappen 0.7s off the pace in fourth place. Red Bull was running an extremely skinny rear wing, and therefore less downforce, in order to compensate for its power deficit throughout Friday.
Vettel was only fifth quickest after a mistake at the end of the middle sector saw him abort his best lap on supersoft tires. The German had taken the best performance out of the Pirellis by that stage and so did not set a representative low fuel lap time, ending up over three quarters of a second slower than his teammate.
Daniel Ricciardo had a more productive session after completing only four laps in FP1 due to an engine injector problem, but was 0.9s off the pace in sixth place after also suggesting he had an issue with his gear synching.
Force India continued to lead the midfield as Sergio Perez was seventh-fastest overall, half a second off Ricciardo and 0.8s clear of Carlos Sainz’s Renault, while the Sauber pair of Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc rounded out the top 10.
Sainz was running an updated floor in FP2 while teammate Nico Hulkenberg — 11th quickest – tried the old specification for comparison, but the German will also start from the back of the grid due to exceeding the limit on power unit components.
Despite the long lap at over 100 seconds, the midfield battle remains extremely close as less than half a second separated Sainz in eighth from Esteban Ocon in 13th, encompassing Renault, Sauber, Haas and Force India.
Fernando Alonso returned to action after handing over his car to Lando Norris in FP1, but the Spaniard was left languishing in 16th place as McLaren appears particularly uncompetitive at Spa. Alonso was 2.7s slower than Raikkonen while teammate Stoffel Vandoorne was slowest overall for the second consecutive session at his home race.