Verstappen sets the pace in practice for Belgian Grand Prix

Sports Desk, Aug 28 (efe-epa).- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) set the best time Friday in the second practice session for the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman made it around the Spa-Francorchamps track in 1:43.744, 0.48s faster than Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), while British six-time champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) took the third spot.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, Thai driver Alex Albon, was fourth, followed by Mexico’s Sergio “Checo” Perez (Racing Point).

The other half of the Mercedes duo, Valtteri Bottas of Finland, finished sixth after posting the fastest lap in Free Practice 1. Seventh place went to British racer Lando Norris (McLaren).

Rounding out the top 10 were France’s Esteban Ocon (Renault), Spaniard Carlos Sainz (McLaren) and another Frenchman, Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri).

The travails of Ferrari, F1’s most storied team, continued Friday, as Monaco’s Charles Leclerc could manage only a 15th-place showing and Sebastian Vettel was 17th.

Leclerc won the Belgian Grand Prix a year ago and his German teammate has been the winner at Spa on three occasions in the course of a career that has included four driver’s championships.

Despite Ricciardo’s surprising performance, the day ended on a worrisome note for Renault, as the Aussie’s car broke down about 20 minutes before the end of FP2.

The session was interrupted again 10 minutes later when an advertising panel ended up on the track.

Verstappen, the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race so far in the pandemic-disrupted 2020 season, expressed satisfaction with Friday’s result.

“It’s been alright I think. The car seems to handle well,” he said. “Of course it’s early days. From our side, it’s a good start but still some things to work on, of course, for tomorrow. But overall I’m pretty happy.

And though he finished third, Hamilton was similarly upbeat.

“It’s been generally a good day. I love driving round this track, it’s incredible,” the 35-year-old Briton said.

“I think the Red Bulls are a little bit quicker at the moment, but even the Racing Point is right with us. And then also Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault was very close. You know it makes it exciting. We’ve got some work to do to try to dial in the car, but it doesn’t feel bad at all,” Hamilton said.

With victories in four of the first six races of the 2020 campaign, Hamilton leads the driver standings with 132 points.

Verstappen, who won the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone and finished second in the Hungarian, British and Spanish GPs, is next with 95 points, six more than Bottas.

The Finnish Mercedes driver triumphed in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix and finished second to Hamilton in the Styrian GP. He was third in Hungary, the 70th Anniversary event and in Spain. EFE


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