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Verstappen quickest in damp final practice


Ahead of today's sole practice session the air temperature is 13.3 degrees C, while the track temperature is 15.5 degrees. As expected, it is cold and wet... officially wet.

With further rain expected throughout the weekend the form book pretty much goes out the window, even though Mercedes had the edge yesterday, especially on the longer runs, while Max Verstappen looked good on the hards.

The Dutchman, of course, blotted his copybook in FP2 by crashing late in the session, while the earlier incident involving Charles Leclerc necessitated Ferrari giving the youngster a new chassis.

Talking of crashes, the incident during yesterday's qualifying session for the W Series had once again stirred up debate over Eau Rouge and whether the iconic section needs re-profiling.

Other than the usual Red Bull/Mercedes battle, McLaren looked good yesterday, slightly better than Ferrari, while Alpine and Aston Martin were also looking strong.

Though the session is declared wet, in the moments before the lights go green small patches of blue begin to appear in the sky.

Russell, Ocon, Schumacher and Mazepin are first out, the Haas pair on full wets.

An early mistake from Russell who locks-up at the chicane.

More and more drivers head out, among them the Mercedes pair, all opting for the inters.

Once again, a difference of opinion between the Mercedes pair, Bottas sporting a slim rear wing and Hamilton running the 'barn door'.

Russell gets things underway with a 2:05.546, but Latifi responds with a 2:04.802.

Leclerc goes quickest with a 2:02.361 only to be demoted when Russell responds with a 2:01.699.

Offs for Vettel at Turn 6, Bottas at Turn 5, Sainz at Turn 8 and Hamilton at Turn 5.

Nine minutes in and all bar Perez have appeared.

Gasly goes quickest with a 2:01.385, as Ricciardo goes fourth, ahead of Leclerc, Stroll, Giovinazzi and Tsunoda.

Vettel goes top (2:00.170), only to be demoted when Hamilton stops the clock at 1:57.996.

"My brakes failed, I have no brakes," reports Raikkonen.

Gasly goes second, ahead of Russell, only to be demoted when Norris posts a 1:58.509.

Verstappen's first lap puts the Red Bull driver seventh (2:00.686) as teammate Perez goes quickest in S2. The Mexican subsequently crosses the line at 58.657 to go third.

Having gone quickest in S1, Verstappen backs off after making a mistake at Malmedy.

A 58.083 sees Perez improve to second, ahead of Norris, Gasly and Russell.

Again Verstappen goes quickest in S1, this time there are no mistakes and he maintains his pace in S2. Quickest again in S2 the Dutchman crosses the line at 56.924 to go quickest by 1.072s.

Moments later Perez makes it a Red Bull 1-2 as he stops the clock at 57.871.

After 22 minutes, Ocon is the only driver yet to post a time. The Hungary winner having only completed one lap thus far.

Ricciardo is told of "slight" rain on certain part of the track with heavier rain expected in ten minutes. The Australian responds by improving to 12th with a 2:00.456.

One by one the drivers head back to the pits, leaving the track to Latifi, Schumacher, Tsunoda and Ocon who finally heads out again.

Despite a small mistake at Turn 5 on his out lap, Ocon subsequently posts a 58.913 to go fifth.

In the Alfa Romeo garage, Raikkonen's car is up on its stands following the earlier brake issue.

No such issues for teammate Giovinazzi who joins Ocon on track.

As Verstappen heads out, on the grass bank that lines the track the fans raise their umbrellas.

"The dry lines are disappearing slowly," reports Verstappen.

The Ferrari pair head out and almost immediately Sainz reports that the "track is back to full wets".

As Alonso makes full use of the escape road at Le Combes, fans are allowed to share his unexpected and bumpy detour courtesy of his visor cam.

Leclerc is informed that "no more rain" is expected.

A PB is S1 for Hamilton, one of the few drivers appearing to improve his pace.

Verstappen has already called quits on the session, satisfied with his morning's work.

A mistake sees Hamilton run wide in Turn 11, with Gasly spinning off at Turn 14 moments later.

With little prospect of improving their times, more drivers follow Verstappen's example and head off for lunch.

At which point... Norris heads out on softs. A brave decision from the McLaren driver... who almost loses the rear as he exits the pitlane.

Understandably, it is a very, very cautious lap from the Briton who subsequently pits.

The session ends. Verstappen is quickest, ahead of Perez, Hamilton, Norris, Ocon, Stroll, Gasly, Vettel, Russell and Alonso.

Bottas is eleventh, ahead of Latifi, Ricciardo, Sainz, Schumacher, Leclerc, Tsunoda, Giovinazzi, Mazepin and Raikkonen.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Spa, here.


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