Motorsport Blog
Topic

Motorsport Blog

The chase continues: Lewis Hamilton leads second free practice of Belgian F1 GP

Lewis Hamilton topped the second free practice session before the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, ahead of FP1 leader Kimi Raikkonen at Spa-Francorch...

The chase continues: Lewis Hamilton leads second free practice of Belgian F1 GP

Lewis Hamilton topped the second free practice session before the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, ahead of FP1 leader Kimi Raikkonen at Spa-Francorchamps.

Hamilton's time of 1m44.753 seconds, set on ultra-soft tyres, was 0.262s faster than Raikkonen's lap. Team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished third fastest, 0.427s off the pace and 0.050s quicker than Max Verstappen in fourth; Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top five, 0.482s slower than Hamilton.

Friday's top time, set by Hamilton, was 3.33s faster than 2016's FP2 topping-time of 1m48.085s set by Verstappen.

Hamilton led the first 30 minutes of the session with a time of 1m45.634s on soft tyres, a full six tenths faster than team-mate Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes lay down the gauntlet early on as the rust of the F1 summer break clearly needed little shaking off.

When teams fitted ultra-softs after 35 minutes, times were sent tumbling, but Hamilton's pace on softs became a worrying prospect as the the ultra-softs offered an improvement of just 0.881s.

Long run performance

Teams needed to get in some meaningful running on the ultra-soft tyres in race conditions to get a sense of how the tyre would perform in the opening stint of the race, if it is dry on Sunday.

Vettel managed 14 laps on the tyre with some noted degradation, while Hamilton's long run on it was slower; similar on pace to Bottas' super-soft long run.

There was limited running on the soft - Red Bull didn't use it at all as they only have one set for the whole weekend, it prefers to run the super-soft.

Meanwhile Mercedes looked very fast on the soft tyre with low degradation. A strategy of ten to 12 laps on ultra softs and then 32 laps on softs is certainly doable, but Mercedes and Ferrari both have the pace to qualify on super-softs and start the race on them; this would open up flexibility in the strategy. Ricciardo managed 32 laps of Silverstone on a set of super-softs, but he may struggle to do that here with similar loads and a longer lap.

Mercedes has a lower pace delta between the ultra-soft and the soft than any of the other top teams, at around one second. Others are quite a few tenths slower on the soft than the ultra-soft; it looked closer to two seconds for Raikkonen in FP2. Vettel didn't use the soft.

After the problems encountered in Silverstone with blisters on the Pirelli tyres, there were some today, but nothing too concerning, according to the Mario Isola, the company's F1 project leader.

Rain stops play

The rain began to fall with just over 20 minutes remaining, cutting short ultra-soft runs before the tyres began to drop-off and the majority of drivers virtually ended their session as soon as the weather worsened.

Fernando Alonso went out on intermediates with eight minutes remaining but it was too wet for that compound. He finished the session 11th, six tenths ahead of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in 14th who takes a 35-place grid penalty for his home race.

The McLaren Hondas receive a more powerful Honda internal combustion engine and Vandoorne gets a reliability upgrade. With all six components of his power unit needing a replacement, Vandoorne takes a grid-place hit, but Alonso doesn't as he hasn't received the reliability improvements.

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg was best of the midfield, 1.688s off the top in seventh, followed by Force India's Esteban Ocon who was 0.032s behind in eighth. Ocon finished half a second faster than team-mate Sergio Perez, who ended the session 12th.

Rounding out the top 10 were Carlos Sainz Jr of Toro Rosso and Renault's Jolyon Palmer – 1.990s split Palmer and Hamilton.

Haas' Romain Grosjean finished 13th, 0.018s ahead of McLaren's Vandoorne while Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen took 15th and 16th.

Lance Stroll was the sole Williams driver as Felipe Massa crashed in FP1 and missed the following session. Stroll struggled and finished 17th, 3.108s off the pace while the Saubers finished at the back with Marcus Ericsson ahead of team-mate Pascal Wehrlein; a sizeable gap of 4.972s covered the 19 runners in FP2.

FP1

Ferrari's Raikkonen led the first practice session on ultra-soft tyres over Mercedes' Hamilton, who used soft tyres.

His time of 1m45.502s beat Hamilton's by 0.053s in FP1 while team-mate Vettel finished third fastest, ahead of the Red Bull trio of Verstappen in fourth and Ricciardo in fifth.

Massa crashed 15 minutes into the session, stopping FP1 for 10 minutes having hit the tyre barrier hard after Turn 7. As a result, Massa missed FP2 having needed a chassis charge.

Have your say on Hamilton's FP2-topping performance in the comment section below.

Results, FP2, Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix:

POSITION

DRIVER

CAR

TIME

GAP

LAPS

1

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes

1m44.753s

-

17

2

Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari

1m45.015s

0.262s

21

3

Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes

1m45.180s

0.427s

17

4

Max Verstappen

Red Bull

1m45.225s

0.472s

16

5

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari

1m45.235s

0.482s

20

6

Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull

1m46.072s

1.319s

15

7

Nico Hulkenberg

Renault

1m46.441s

1.688s

24

8

Esteban Ocon

Force India

1m46.473s

1.720s

19

9

Carlos Sainz Jr

Toro Rosso

1m46.561s

1.808s

19

10

Jolyon Palmer

Renault

1m46.670s

1.917s

23

11

Fernando Alonso

McLaren

1m46.743s

1.990s

20

12

Sergio Perez

Force India

1m46.984s

2.231s

18

13

Romain Grosjean

Haas

1m47.285s

2.532s

15

14

Stoffel Vandoorne

McLaren

1m47.303s

2.550s

17

15

Daniil Kvyat

Toro Rosso

1m47.450s

2.697s

12

16

Kevin Magnussen

Haas

1m47.556s

2.803s

15

17

Lance Stroll

Williams

1m47.861s

3.108s

13

18

Marcus Ericsson

Sauber

1m49.214s

4.461s

12

19

Pascal Wehrlein

Sauber

1m49.725s

4.972s

18

shares
comments
Haas F1 sporting director O'Neill to leave team

Previous article

Haas F1 sporting director O'Neill to leave team

Next article

Red Bull abandons low drag set-up gamble

Red Bull abandons low drag set-up gamble
Load comments
The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Prime

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed.

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Prime

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Prime

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't Prime

How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says Oleg Karpov, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Prime

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says Mark Gallagher, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors.

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021
The unexpected benefit of F1's sprint race repeat Prime

The unexpected benefit of F1's sprint race repeat

OPINION: Formula 1's sprint race trial at Silverstone drew mixed feedback on Saturday, but there remained the true test of how it would impact Sunday's Grand Prix. While fans were busy marvelling at Fernando Alonso's progress, a key lesson was being learned that would directly contribute to the dramatic lap-one clash at Copse the following day

Formula 1
Jul 22, 2021
The off-track considerations that led to Hamilton/Verstappen F1 shunt Prime

The off-track considerations that led to Hamilton/Verstappen F1 shunt

OPINION: Formula 1’s 2021 title fight turned ugly last weekend when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided at the start of the British Grand Prix. Verstappen thankfully walked away unharmed, but this had been a clash long-since coming.

Formula 1
Jul 21, 2021
British Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

British Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 British Grand Prix will live long in the memory for the dramatic clash between Formula 1's two title protagonists, which opened the door for other drivers to capitalise. One did so in spectacular fashion, while others fluffed their lines

Formula 1
Jul 19, 2021