F1 practice results: Max Verstappen fastest, then crashes in Spa

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fastest on the opening day of Belgian Grand Prix practice at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday, the 12th round of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship, but his day ended with a crash.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was fastest in FP1 and Verstappen pipped him in FP2, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc suffered a crash that caused a red flag.

Verstappen himself then crashed at Malmedy, damaging the right-rear corner of his car as he backed it into the tyrewall.

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Belgian Grand Prix FP1 results: Bottas fastest from Verstappen

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap Interval km/h
1 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 18 1'45.199     239.682
2 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 14 1'45.363 0.164 0.164 239.309
3 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 20 1'45.699 0.500 0.336 238.549
4 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 19 1'45.818 0.619 0.119 238.280
5 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 20 1'45.935 0.736 0.117 238.017
6 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 17 1'46.127 0.928 0.192 237.587
7 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 19 1'46.177 0.978 0.050 237.475
8 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 17 1'46.336 1.137 0.159 237.120
9 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 16 1'46.497 1.298 0.161 236.761
10 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 16 1'46.612 1.413 0.115 236.506
11 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 19 1'46.649 1.450 0.037 236.424
12 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 20 1'46.683 1.484 0.034 236.348
13 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 17 1'46.755 1.556 0.072 236.189
14 United Kingdom George Russell Williams 19 1'46.772 1.573 0.017 236.151
15 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 19 1'46.928 1.729 0.156 235.807
16 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 20 1'47.101 1.902 0.173 235.426
17 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 15 1'48.125 2.926 1.024 233.196
18 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 17 1'48.224 3.025 0.099 232.983
19 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin Haas 16 1'48.705 3.506 0.481 231.952
20 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas 15 1'49.059 3.860 0.354 231.199

What happened in Free Practice 1?

After a rain-affected start to the session, Verstappen set the benchmark fastest time on hard-compound dry tyres halfway through at 1m46.879s and then lowered that to 1m46.423s and 1m45.905s on his long run. That put him over a second clear with 20 minutes remaining.

The soft-tyre runs were topped by Bottas, who set 1m45.199s to take away P1. Teammate Hamilton, meanwhile, hit traffic on his flying lap – almost being swiped off the track by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams on the approach to the Bus Stop chicane. Mercedes was back-to-back testing high and low downforce rear wings, and Hamilton complained he was “massively slow on the straights” using a larger wing – and he ended the session down in 18th.

Verstappen took P2 with 1m45.363s and was fastest overall through the middle sector but seemed to struggle through the final chicane.

Pierre Gasly took third for AlphaTauri, exactly half a second off Bottas’s pace, ahead of Leclerc, who almost fenced his Ferrari at Malmedy after a gravelly off. His teammate Carlos Sainz was fifth, ahead of the recently re-signed Sergio Perez (Red Bull).

One bizarre incident was Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen hitting the inside wall of the pitlane entry – “my bad” he admitted of damaging the left side of his car.

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Belgian Grand Prix FP2 results: Verstappen fastest from Bottas

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap Interval km/h
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 12 1'44.472     241.350
2 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 14 1'44.513 0.041 0.041 241.256
3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 13 1'44.544 0.072 0.031 241.184
4 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 15 1'44.953 0.481 0.409 240.244
5 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 17 1'44.965 0.493 0.012 240.217
6 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 14 1'45.180 0.708 0.215 239.726
7 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 15 1'45.302 0.830 0.122 239.448
8 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 16 1'45.336 0.864 0.034 239.371
9 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 18 1'45.386 0.914 0.050 239.257
10 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 13 1'45.404 0.932 0.018 239.216
11 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 14 1'45.517 1.045 0.113 238.960
12 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 17 1'45.758 1.286 0.241 238.416
13 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 16 1'45.789 1.317 0.031 238.346
14 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 18 1'45.967 1.495 0.178 237.945
15 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 14 1'46.118 1.646 0.151 237.607
16 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 17 1'46.198 1.726 0.080 237.428
17 United Kingdom George Russell Williams 14 1'46.665 2.193 0.467 236.388
18 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 13 1'46.836 2.364 0.171 236.010
19 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin Haas 14 1'47.335 2.863 0.499 234.913
20 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas 15 1'47.529 3.057 0.194 234.489

What happened in Free Practice 2?

After rain between the sessions, FP2 began on a damp track that was drying quickly.

Bottas set the pace on medium tyres after 20 minutes with a laptime of 1m44.513s, 0.614s faster than Verstappen, then Hamilton took P2 on 1m44.544s – 0.031s off his teammate. Verstappen improved on his second flyer, getting to within 0.084s of the pace – also on mediums.

Mercedes switched to the softs in time for the halfway point, with Hamilton not improving despite setting the fastest middle sector overall and Bottas also failed to beat his earlier time as Mercedes appeared to have its engines turned down.

Verstappen then unleashed 1m44.472s on softs to beat Bottas by 0.041s and Hamilton by 0.072s.

Recently re-signed Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest for Alpine on softs, albeit almost half a second off the pace. Hungarian GP-winning teammate Esteban Ocon suffered a huge spin at Fagnes without hitting anything.

The session was first halted with 15 minutes to go when Leclerc got sideways at Les Combes and couldn’t keep it out of the wall on the left-hand side, swiping off a front corner.

Soon after the session restarted, it required another red flag as Verstappen lost it at Malmedy and clipped the barrier with his right-rear corner. That incident ended the day’s running.

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