Ferrari maintained a clear advantage over the rest of the field during the second practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc leading the way.
Sebastian Vettel had been quickest as Ferrari finished one-two in the opening session on Friday, and the roles were reversed in FP2 as Leclerc set the pace with a 1m44.123s. While the gap between the two Ferrari drivers was only 0.2s in FP1, Leclerc ended up over 0.6s clear of Vettel in the second session.
Mercedes had not used the soft compound tire during the opening session but the qualifying simulations in FP2 saw Valtteri Bottas over 0.8s off the pace in third place on a 1m44.969s, with teammate Lewis Hamilton only 0.046s further adrift in fourth place. Hamilton complained about issues with his helmet and changed it after an early run, following on from power unit and telemetry concerns in FP1.
Fifth was Sergio Perez but any satisfaction was short-lived as the Mexican suffered failure late in the session and caused a red flag. Racing Point had taken the upgraded Mercedes power unit on Friday but soon after Lance Stroll complained of something burning his back, Perez came to an abrupt halt at Bruxelles and jumped out of the car with flames emerging from the rear.
Perez looked visibly frustrated as he stood behind the car with his hands on his head, with the Virtual Safety Car being upgraded to a red flag and bringing the session to an early end. Perez had been the only other driver within a second of Leclerc, finishing 0.3s clear of Max Verstappen in sixth.
Verstappen’s session saw slightly less running than most rivals as he completed just 20 laps — compared to 30 for Vettel — and ended up 1.2s off the pace at a track where Ferrari’s car concept appears to suit the Spa-Francorchamps layout given its straight-line speed.
Kimi Raikkonen was seventh fastest despite struggling with a pulled muscle, finishing FP2 ahead of Lance Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo and Alexander Albon. Albon had impressed in FP1 when he matched Verstappen, but he ended up 0.4s off his teammate in the second session.
While 2.2s covered the top 18 cars on the longest track of the season — with Kevin Magnussen slowest of those 18 — the Williams pair of George Russell and Robert Kubica were well adrift of the rest of the field, with Russell 3.7s off the pace and half a second ahead of his teammate.