Verstappen tops second Belgian GP practice, then crashes

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Verstappen tops second Belgian GP practice, then crashes

Formula 1

Verstappen tops second Belgian GP practice, then crashes


Max Verstappen set the fastest time but put his car in the wall in a twice suspended second practice session at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman was undertaking a race simulation when he lost control of his Red Bull Racing machine exiting Turn 7, losing control over the gravel and spinning backwards into the far barrier, spitting stones onto the track.

The damage was not visually severe, but the car was stopped in the rearward impact, so the session was called off with three minutes left on the clock.

It was the second crash in a manner of minutes on a day of mixed weather conditions, keeping track grip low. The first man to find the barrier was Charles Leclerc, who lost control of his Ferrari on the power out of Turn 6.

The Monegasque almost managed to bring the situation under control, but by the time the car’s rear stabilized he was already careering into the gravel, from where impact with the barrier was unavoidable, ripping off his left-front wheel and front wing.

Leclerc emerged unscathed, but the session was suspended for eight minutes to collect the wreckage — though the subsequent green flag lasted mere minutes before Verstappen forced the session to end.

The Dutchman regardless held onto the fastest time, finishing 0.041s ahead of Valtteri Bottas and 0.072s faster than championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

However, both Mercedes drivers set their best times on the slower medium tire, whereas Verstappen’s benchmark was set with the softs, suggesting the German marque may have at least retained its advantage from the opening practice session topped by Bottas.

Fernando Alonso was impressive in fourth for Alpine. The Spaniard was 0.481s shy of the benchmark and 0.012s quicker than AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.

Lance Stroll was another two tenths in arrears for sixth ahead of Esteban Ocon, who was fortunate to avoid a serious crash when running wide at Fagnes. Dipping his rear right into the run-off, the Frenchman managed to prevent himself from spearing into the opposite barrier only at the expense of his soft tires, which were badly flat-spotted in the save, forcing him to limp back to the pits for a change.

Sebastian Vettel was eighth ahead of Lando Norris and the newly re-signed Sergio Perez, who followed announcement of his one-year deal into a lap 0.932s off his teammate’s headline pace, albeit on the slower medium tire.

Carlos Sainz was 11th as the lead Ferrari ahead of Yuki Tsunoda and Alfa Romeo teammates Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen.

Daniel Ricciardo was 15th ahead of only Williams duo Nicholas Latifi and George Russell, the crashed Leclerc and both Haas drivers, with Nikita Mazepin heading Mick Schumacher for the second straight session.

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