Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fastest in second practice for the Belgian Grand Prix. The Dutchman was four-hundredths faster than the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton. The session began with a damp track but soon times began to be set.
Valtteri Bottas setting the early pace, before Verstappen slowly got closer to the Mercedes with them running at lower power it allowed the Red Bull driver to go to the top of the times. It looked as if the world champions were not showing their full potential.
That led to a surprise with Renault being just four hundredths behind Verstappen. Despite the strong pace by Ricciardo, his session was brought to an early conclusion, after the team told him to stop at the side of the track, because of a loss of hydraulic pressure.
Lewis Hamilton was third fastest ahead of Alex Albon, the Red Bull driver managing a 44.1 to spilt the Mercedes early on. But he was pushed to fourth after Verstappen and Ricciardo did their fastest laps on the soft tyre. Renault proving strong in the final sector.
Hamilton also nearly lost the rear of his Mercedes later in the session, he appeared to be changing a switch on his steering wheel and nearly lost the rear of his W11, was shuffled down to third ahead of Albon, Perez and Bottas, but did finish with the quickest time in the long middle sector.
Albon appearing to struggle to find the same pace as teammate Verstappen, he was three tenths behind his teammate’s session topping time.
Mercedes are still likely to be the team to beat, as they were fastest on the single lap runs. Race runs could be unknown as they were interrupted by the VSC to recover Ricciardo’s car, the only lap the team managed was almost identical to the first time set by Verstappen on his race-simulation run.
Sergio Perez was fifth just three-thousandths of a second behind Albon’s Red Bull, posting the fastest time in the middle sector. Bottas just behind him finishing the session four-tenths off the pace, and ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Norris earlier in the session had to slowly return to the pits because of an engine calibration problem but managed to get back out to finish ahead of Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly.
Lance Stroll was eleventh ahead of the second Alpha Tauri of Daniil Kvyat. But there is likely to be more head-scratching for Ferrari, the works team being behind both Alfa Romeo’s. Antonio Giovinazzi thirteenth and Kimi Raikkonen fourteenth.
Last season the Italian manufacturer took pole and won the race, Charles Leclerc over a second and a half off the pace. Spa across all six Ferrari powered cars is exposing the power struggles that the power unit is having with acceleration.
The only non Ferrari powered cars in the bottom eight were the Williams’s, but further underlining the woes at Ferrari was George Russell. The Englishman two tenths faster than Sebastian Vettel, splitting the Ferrari’s.
Haas’s day wasn’t getting better, after failing to set a time in FP1 they only did twelve laps as the team changed their customer Ferrari power units.
After they failed to set a time in FP1, Magnussen missed almost all of the opening hour of FP2, while Grosjean only appeared for the first time with under 30 minutes remaining.