Leclerc leads Ferrari one-two in FP2
Charles Leclerc on track during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (Photo by Mark Thompson,Getty Images)

Leclerc leads Ferrari one-two in FP2

Ferrari continued to set scintillating pace out in front, with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel topping the timesheets for the second consecutive session in Spa.

matthewwatkinson
Matthew Watkinson

Charles Leclerc set an emphatic time of 1:44.123, a huge six-tenths ahead of his teammate to put him forward as one of the favourites to clinch pole position on Saturday.

Sebastian Vettel has started this weekend with a point to prove and having not won a race since the Belgian GP 12-months ago, the four-time world champion looked in the mood in FP2 lifting his Ferrari to P2 with a front row lockout for the second consecutive session.

Mercedes were evidently lacking in outright pace up against the Maranello outfit and championship leader Lewis Hamilton continued to be frustrated having faced a throttle issue in the previous session, he had problems with dust entering his visor early on and only managed fourth.

It was a quiet session for Valtteri Bottas after signing an extension with Mercedes that will see him partner Hamilton next term, but in FP2 he managed to edge his teammate finishing third.

A handful of drivers have arrived this weekend with new Spec engines, however Max Verstappen, unlike his teammate, isn’t running Honda’s new Spec 4 engine and the Dutchman reported “Losing power” among with a host of other issues throughout the session, before ending the session in sixth place.

Having sat in the Red Bull for the first time in FP1, Alexander Albon’s debut race for his new team will see him start from the back of the field after receiving an engine penalty. The Thai Brit seemed off the pace in tenth, but with a setup geared towards the race rather than qualifying there was no need for panic.

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Perez on fire for Racing Point

Sergio Perez was the star of FP2 and his relentless pace was enough to edge Verstappen to fifth position, something that seemed far from likely prior to this weekend, though the Dutchman had set his fastest time on the medium tyres.

The initial pace was impressive for Perez, but he will ultimately be disappointed after his session ended early after stopping on track with his car going up in smoke. The incident ended the session after a red flag with two-minutes to go.

After finishing best of the rest in FP1, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll impressed once more, emulating that performance in FP1 by finishing the session in an impressive eighth place.

Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen arrived this weekend as the most decorated driver on the grid when it comes to success in Spa, and the Finn proved his pace once more finishing the session in seventh place, again outperforming Antonio Giovinazzi who could only manage a disappointing 16th place.

Daniel Ricciardo ended the session in ninth, four-places ahead of his Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg in 13th, who will be hoping to keep his focus amid finding himself without a seat at Renault for 2020.

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The rest of the pack

For much of the season McLaren have been the team to beat in the midfield battle, however early signs suggest a lack of pace after Carlos Sainz ended the session in P11 ahead of Lando Norris who could only manage 15th.

Pierre Gasly’s torrid form continued as he ended the session well behind Daniil Kvyat in 17th, with the Frenchman in desperate need of clearing his mind and starting fresh with Toro Rosso, where the pressure that he faced at Red Bull will be lifted somewhat.

Amid doubts over his future with Hulkenberg linked with a Haas drive for 2020, Romain Grosjean was no match for his teammate Kevin Magnussen after he finished three-tenths ahead of the Dane in 12th place.

Magnussen was unfortunate having lost some valuable race-simulation time, after Haas looked to be working on the rear suspension of the car.

George Russell edged his teammate Robert Kubica, however Williams ended the session at the back of the field in a weekend that will most likely, once more be a write-off.

 

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