Verstappen quickest in second Belgian GP practice

Verstappen fastest but will have grid penalty as Leclerc will also set to be sent to the back

Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen. (AFP)
Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen. (AFP)

By Reuters

Published: Fri 26 Aug 2022, 9:40 PM

Red Bull's Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen lapped fastest on Friday in practice for a Belgian Grand Prix that he will start from the back end of the grid.

The Dutchman lapped the daunting Spa-Francorchamps track in one minute 45.507 seconds, a comfortable 0.862 seconds clear of his Ferrari title rival Charles Leclerc -- who will also have a grid drop -- in the second session.

The two championship frontrunners will start among the tail-enders after they collected engine and gearbox-related penalties.

Verstappen leads Leclerc by 80 points in the overall standings with nine races to go and does not need to win again to clinch a second successive title if results go his way.

But the penalties will come as a blow to Leclerc’s hopes, however unlikely, of closing the gap.

McLaren’s Lando Norris, 13th fastest in Friday’s opening hour of practice, vaulted up to third in the second session but also has penalties that will send him to the back on Sunday.

Canadian Lance Stroll was fourth for Aston Martin ahead of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, the pacesetter in Friday's first session.

Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, hopeful of scoring his first win of the season in an increasingly competitive Mercedes, was sixth ahead of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Mercedes teammate George Russell.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo, on his way out of McLaren at the end of the season, was ninth with Sergio Perez rounding out the top 10 for Red Bull.

The second session was largely trouble free in comparison to the first which was interrupted by a red flag after Kevin Magnussen ground to a halt on track in his Haas.

However, some drivers ran off track on a mist-wreathed circuit made damp by an intermittent drizzle of rain.

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