Verstappen goes fastest, crashes out of F1 practice
By Mat Coch
Saturday 28th August, 2021 - 12:20am
Max Verstappen went fastest but also triggered the red flag which brought a premature end to Free Practice 2 for the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix.
Verstappen crashed inside the final five minutes of the session at Malmedy, damaging the rear of his Red Bull.
Completing a race run at the time, the Dutchman had earlier recorded the best time of the session.
However, it was close at the top, with less than 0.1s covering the fastest three.
Verstappen’s crash saw officials call the session four minutes early with Valtteri Bottas second and Lewis Hamilton third.
Rain saw the track declared wet for the start of the session, the official chance of rain 60 percent.
There was a dry line emerging, however, and the darker conditions were lifting as the session began.
Those who headed out opted for intermediate rubber but in reality the track surface was good enough for slicks.
“A couple of wet patches, but definitely slicks,” was the message from Lando Norris back to the McLaren pit wall.
The Brit pitted and swapped his green-walled rubber for the hard compound slicks before heading back out on track – the only man on circuit after a handful of others trundled out for an installation lap as the session began.
Norris’ first timed lap was a 1:48.219s, three seconds slower than Bottas had managed earlier session.
George Russell was the second driver to bank a time, a 1:51.835s, his Williams team-mate Nicholas Latifi recorded a 1:49.669s soon after.
On his second timed lap, Norris improved to a 1:47.138s as most every driver either headed out or was on track
Both Red Bulls and Mercedes drivers were the exceptions, the quartet keeping their powder dry in the opening minutes.
After 14 minutes, Sergio Perez and Hamilton headed out, leaving Verstappen as the only driver not to have completed at least a sighting lap.
Times rapidly dropped, Bottas going fastest on a set of medium tyres with a 1:44.513s to head Hamilton, also on the yellow-walled rubber, with a 1:44.544s.
Pierre Gasly had a moment at Les Combes, touring through the return chute to rejoin at Malmedy, an error repeated by Norris soon after.
Bottas and Russell were the first to head out on soft compound tyres after 27 minutes, a host of others following suit soon after.
Conditions had improved markedly, with the sun basking the circuit.
Bottas’ soft tyre run opened with a 1:44.942s, almost half a second away the pace he’d displayed earlier.
Hamilton was similarly down, slower at the first split on his first lap though finding time through the middle third of the lap.
Like Bottas, he did not improve to record a 1:44.898s suggesting a different engine mode or a heavier fuel load at play.
While the Mercedes duo looked to be playing games, there was no such concerns at Red Bull as Verstappen went fastest of anyone through the middle third of the lap.
He ended up with the fastest lap, 1:44.472s to edge out Bottas, the top three were split by just 0.07s.
Esteban Ocon found himself pointing the wrong way with 20 minutes remaining, the Alpine driver having lost the car on exit of the Fagnes chicane.
Charles Leclerc was less fortunate, skidding to a halt at Malmedy to draw the red flag.
The Ferrari driver lost control at Les Combes, the back end stepping out under acceleration and firing him across the road.
He almost gathered it back up but clipped the wall on the drivers’ left to knock the front corner off the SF21.
A seven-minute stoppage followed, resuming with 10 minutes left on the clock and a traffic jam at pit exit.
Leaving the pits was far from trivial as some headed straight out and others pulled to the right at the exit to complete a practice start.
All 19 surviving cars headed out on track, a mixture of all three compound of tyres in use as teams used the little remaining time to complete a race simulation.
A second red flag was called for when Verstappen crashed at the exit of Malmedy, damaging the right-rear of the Red Bull.
The Dutchman reported he lost the rear, backing into the wall and drawing an end to the session.
It saw the session end with a muddied picture, the top three seemingly evenly matched despite Red Bull appearing to run a higher downforce setup.
Alpine showed well courtesy of Fernando Alonso in fourth, as was AlphaTauri with Pierre Gasly on fifth.
Early pace-setter Norris was only ninth with a 1:45.386s, while Daniel Ricciardo was 15th best, 0.7s off his team-mate.
Track action continues with Free Practice 3 at 20:00 AEST.
Results: Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, Free Practice 2
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:44.472||12|
|5||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:44.965||+0.493s||17|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:45.180||+0.708s||14|
|8||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1:45.336||+0.864s||16|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||1:45.404||+0.932s||13|
|12||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:45.758||+1.286s||17|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:45.789||+1.317s||16|
|14||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:45.967||+1.495s||18|