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Formula One

FP2: Leclerc heads Vettel as Ferrari finish 1-2 again in Spa

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Charles Leclerc dominated the second free practice session for the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix, lapping Spa-Francorchamps 0.630s faster than team mate Sebastian Vettel, and over eight-tenths quicker than the third-placed Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas to secure Ferrari’s second one-two of the day.

Ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, the experts were expecting big things from Ferrari and their powerful, aerodynamically efficient SF90. And after Vettel led FP1 from Leclerc this morning, those predictions were again borne out in FP2, with Leclerc lapping Spa in 1m 44.123s to finish as comfortably the fastest driver.

Bottas, even with an upgraded Mercedes power unit, was the only other driver to lap in the 1m 44s bracket, stopping the clocks 0.846s slower than Leclerc to go third, a tenth up on fourth-placed Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton.

One of the stars of the session was Racing Point’s Sergio Perez. The Mexican driver has finished fifthat Spa three times in the past four seasons, and it was that spot he occupied at the end of FP2, less than a second away from the leading Ferrari, and ahead of both Red Bulls.

There were worries for the Mexican in the final moments of the session, however, as he pulled his RP19 to the side of the track with flames licking out of the rear of the car, while team mate Lance Stroll also complained of overheating issues on his own machine.

Behind Perez on the time sheets, Max Verstappen was the fastest of the two Red Bulls, winding up P6 while complaining throughout the session of power unit response issues, while newly-installed team mate Alex Albon was 10th, having had a scrappy lap during his qualifying simulation run.

Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen showed off his four-time Belgium Grand Prix winner credentials to go P7, while Stroll proved that his team mate’s pace was no fluke to go eighth, ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who like Stroll and Perez recorded his second top 10 finish of the day.

Considering their recent turn of pace, McLaren might have been slightly disappointed with their Friday afternoon, as they ended up P11 and P15 with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris respectively, although Sainz (along with Daniil Kvyat, Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Stroll and Albon) will find himself demoted down the grid tomorrow anyway after receiving a penalty for running a new Renault internal combustion engine in the back of his McLaren.

Romain Grosjean appeared the happier of the two Haas drivers – who will share the team’s latest aerodynamic spec on their VF-19s this weekend, rather than Grosjean running the Melbourne spec as he has done in recent races – going P12, while Kevin Magnussen could only manage P18, one place behind Pierre Gasly, who continued to try and get up to speed with his new Toro Rosso STR14 challenger.

Williams were P19 and P20, George Russell coming back into the car after sitting out FP1 and lapping over four-tenths quicker than team mate Robert Kubica.

So Ferrari secure their second one-two finish in as many sessions in Belgium. Can anyone stop them from locking out the front-row of the grid at Spa-Francorchamps? Saturday’s qualifying session is set to be absolutely fascinating.

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