Red Bull’s Max Verstappen topped the practice timesheets for the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix yesterday, ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and championship leader Lewis Hamilton
The Dutchman, third fastest in the first of yesterday’s two 90-minute sessions, vaulted to the top in the afternoon with a time of one minute, 43.744 seconds.
That put him a mere 0.048 seconds clear of Ricciardo with Hamilton also hot on his heels just 0.096 seconds behind.
Hamilton has won four of this season’s six races and is 37 points clear of Verstappen at the top of the overall standings.
In the form of his life he remains the favourite heading into tomorrow’s race.
Still, Verstappen, the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race this year, was competitive throughout yesterday’s running, ending the morning session only 0.081 seconds off Bottas’ benchmark.
The speed his Red Bull displayed, confirmed by his team mate Alexander Albon setting the fourth-fastest time, bodes well for his hopes of a strong result at what is the closest he has to a home race.
Sergio Perez was fifth in his 2019 Mercedes-inspired Racing Point.
Friday morning pace-setter Bottas dropped down to sixth.
Lando Norris, whose mother is also Belgian, was seventh for McLaren ahead of Frenchman Esteban Ocon in the other Renault.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz was ninth in his McLaren ahead of Pierre Gasly who rounded out the top 10 for Alpha Tauri.
Ferrari, winners for the last two years in Belgium, continued to struggle.
Charles Leclerc, who took his maiden Formula One win at the Spa circuit last year, ended the day 15th. His team mate Sebastian Vettel, leaving Ferrari at the end of the year, was only 17th.
Yesterday’s running, in cool, cloudy conditions, was largely incident-free.
Today’s qualifying takes place between 4pm and 5pm and Sunday’s race starts at 4.10pm local time.
Bahrain is one hour ahead of Belgium.