Charles Leclerc dominated proceedings in Friday’s second practice session for the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix, with the Ferrari driver finishing over six-tenths of a second clear of teammate and FP1 pacesetter Sebastian Vettel.
The SF90’s well-documented straight-line speed and the Spa-Francorchamp’s relative lack of slow-speed corners – the car’s Achilles Heel – played to the Scuderia’s strengths, with the red cars finishing well clear of the season’s largely dominant factory Mercedes.
Predictions that the Ferraris could be genuine contenders for a breakthrough victory in 2019 were borne out, with Leclerc clocking a rapid 1:44.123 to finish comfortably clear of the rest of the field.
Third-fastest was the Valtteri Bottas, running an upgraded Mercedes power unit, who was the only other driver to get under the 1m45s barrier in the session. The Finn was, however, over eight-tenths of a second slower than Leclerc’s best time and bemoaned the Ferrari duo’s impressive speed.
“Ferrari have been really strong today, really killing us on the straight lines,” he said after the session.
After losing track time with a throttle issue, Bottas’ teammate and runaway championship leader Lewis Hamilton finished the session fourth-fastest.
A stand-out performer in FP2 was Sergio Pérez, who took full advantage of a wealth of upgrades to his Racing Point to finish fifth on the timesheets. This is a circuit that has historically played to the team’s strengths all the way back to its Jordan days in the 1990s, and the Mexican – who has finished fifth here three times in the past four years – was once again in his element.
The session did no entirely to plan, however, with both he and teammate Lance Stroll (who finished eighth-fastest) both suffering with mechanical dramas. Pérez was forced to pull off to the side of the circuit with flames licking out the back of his car, while Stroll reported overheating issues with his car.
Max Verstappen was sixth-fastest in the session in the lead Red Bull Racing Honda. The Dutchman complained of power unit responsiveness issues, while his newly-installed teammate Alexander Albon was an unrepresentative tenth-fastest with an untidy lap on his qualifying simulation run.
Four-time Belgian Grand Prix winner Kimi Räikkönen continued his love affair with the Ardennes circuit by claiming seventh-fastest in his Alfa Romeo, while Daniel Ricciardo was once again the lead Renault in P9.
|FORMULA 1 JOHNNIE WALKER BELGIAN GRAND PRIX 2019 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 2|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:44.123||28|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:44.753||+ 0.630||30|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:44.969||+ 0.846||28|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:45.015||+ 0.892||26|
|5.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:45.117||+ 0.994||25|
|6.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:45.394||+ 1.271||20|
|7.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:45.708||+ 1.585||25|
|8.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:45.732||+ 1.609||21|
|9.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:45.735||+ 1.612||26|
|10.||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:45.771||+ 1.648||21|
|11.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:45.999||+ 1.876||28|
|12.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:46.120||+ 1.997||21|
|13.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:46.209||+ 2.086||26|
|14.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:46.214||+ 2.091||24|
|15.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:46.258||+ 2.135||29|
|16.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:46.328||+ 2.205||24|
|17.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:46.374||+ 2.251||28|
|18.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:46.399||+ 2.276||21|
|19.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:47.887||+ 3.764||30|
|20.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:48.331||+ 4.208||32|
Images via Racing Point and Scuderia Ferrari