Belgian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen fastest for Red Bull despite crash

Belgian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen fastest for Red Bull despite crash

Max Verstappen

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ended Friday practice at the Belgian Grand Prix with a crash after setting the fastest time ahead of both Mercedes drivers.

The Dutchman, eight points behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the championship, lost control at the Malmedy right-hander.

Verstappen backed into the wall, bringing out the red flag and causing a premature end to the session.

He was 0.039 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas, with Hamilton third.

The seven-time champion was just 0.031secs behind his team-mate, but the Red Bull driver used different tyres to set his time.

Verstappen’s quickest time was on the soft tyre, whereas the Mercedes drivers’ best laps were on the medium.

Both Bottas and Hamilton failed to improve when they tried the soft tyres.

It remains to be seen whether that was because they struggled to make the soft tyres last for a full lap of the Spa-Francorchamps track, the longest on the calendar, or whether they were playing around with engine modes to disguise their true pace.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also had a crash, his at the Les Combes chicane just one corner before Verstappen’s incident. That ended Leclerc’s session midway through, causing a brief red-flag period while the car was recovered.

Leclerc carried a little too much speed into the chicane, managed to negotiate the initial right-hander, but the car ran a little wide through the following left and he lost control as he tried to moved to the other side of the track for the quick Malmedy right-hander that follows.

Behind the top three, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest, ahead of Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was ninth fastest behind Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Williams driver George Russell was 17th.

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