Max Verstappen went quickest in the second practice session ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, as Red Bull Racing turned a low key morning session into a headline-making afternoon outing with Daniel Ricciardo taking second spot.
In the first session Verstappen finished in seventh position, behind Ricciardo. Part of the reason for that was Mercedes’ decision to run the supersoft tyre in FP1, while their rivals chose to stick with tradition and leave their performance runs until the afternoon.
With Mercedes leaving the red-banded tyre alone in session two, the way was clear for Verstappen to push for P1 and the Dutch driver, cheered on by a sizeable contingent of his countrymen in the grandstands, duly set the pace with a time of 1:48.085, 0.263s quicker than Nico Rosberg’s morning timesheet topper. It was also good enough to see Verstappen finish 0.25s clear of team-mate Ricciardo, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg half a second further back in third place.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fourth quickest 0.938s behind Verstappen. The four-time champion split the Force Indias with Sergio Perez in fifth place just over seven hundredths of a seconds behind the German.
After topping the morning timesheet with a lap set while using the Halo head protection device, Rosberg finished the afternoon session in sixth place. His best lap of 1:49.161 was set on the soft compound tyre. Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari was seventh quickest with a lap of 1:49.244 and the Finn finished ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean, McLaren’s Jenson Button and the second Haas of Esteban Gutierrez. Button’s time, using Honda’s new power unit, was encouraging for McLaren after a troubled morning session in which Fernando Alonso managed just three laps.
The Spaniard recovered in the afternoon turning 30 laps with a new power unit to set the 12th fastest time behind the impressive Pascal Wehrlein who set a time of 1:49.716. Alonso’s need for a new power unit means he will take a large grid penalty for Sunday’s race.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton ended the session 13th quickest as he only used a prototype soft Pirelli compound tyre.
2016 Belgian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:48.085 27
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:48.341 27
3 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:48.657 30
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:49.023 28
5 Sergio Perez Force India 1:49.100 27
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:49.161 33
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:49.244 30
8 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:49.419 20
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1:49.419 23
10 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:49.648 23
11 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:49.716 31
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:49.772 30
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:49.782 33
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:49.916 25
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:50.083 27
16 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:50.151 19
17 Felipe Massa Williams 1:50.157 29
18 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:50.194 25
19 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:50.375 34
20 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:50.562 32
21 Esteban Ocon Manor 1:50.659 25
22 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:50.719 24