Max Verstappen was fastest in second practice for the Belgian Grand Prix after going four hundredths faster than Valtteri Bottas. The Red Bull driver set a 44.472 in the second half of the session to move ahead of both Mercedes, however, crashed the car during his race simulation on the exit of Le Combe.
Verstappen appears to lose the rear and slid his way across the gravel and into the barriers bringing out the red flag. The exit of Le Combe appeared to catch a few drivers out, Charles Leclerc another to crash as he tried to correct a spin on exit causing him to lock up as well. That left the Ferrari down in eighteenth.
Explaining what happened, Verstappen said, “I just lost the rear, bit too much oversteer to correct and I hit the wall. Before that, we were very happy, a very positive start.”
Bottas meanwhile was three hundredths faster than teammate Lewis Hamilton, setting up for a close battle between the top two teams this weekend. Conditions are set to be changeable throughout the weekend, but a dry line soon developed, and the track was soon dry enough for dry tyres.
However, Mercedes could have more to give in qualifying, they chose not to set their fastest time on the soft tyres, which in theory could make them faster than Verstappen. That could be irrelevant with mixed conditions forecast for qualifying, but the nature of Spa means that both teams could have a chance.
The big unknown going into the rest of the weekend, should it remain dry, is whether the soft tyre can hold up over a lap or if teams were playing around with engine modes to disguise their true pace.
Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest four-tenths off Verstappen, but the Alpine was a hundredth faster than the Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly. The Spaniard’s teammate Esteban Ocon was one of the first onto the hard tyres going fastest almost straight away, he was seventh fastest Ocon splitting the Aston Martin’s.
Lance Stroll was over a tenth quicker than Ocon in sixth. Ocon also suffering a spin at Fanges, before going sideways along the track towards Stavelot, his car stopped facing the wrong way he recovered to the pits, but not without damaging the tyres. Sebastian Vettel was eighth going almost four hundredths ahead of Lando Norris with Sergio Perez rounding out the top ten.
Ferrari is looking better than last season, but they were still struggling for pace which was to be expected at Spa. Carlos Sainz going eleventh fastest a second off the pace, but he was fastest of the Ferrari powered cars, going four hundredths ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen. The Alfa Romeo drivers over a tenth and a half between them.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifteenth, seven-tenths behind teammate Norris. Nicolas Latifi was four-tenths faster than Williams teammate George Russell, while Nikita Mazepin was almost three-hundredths ahead of Haas teammate Mick Schumacher.