Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen was fastest in his Red Bull in practice on Friday for the Belgian Grand Prix, in which he will start from the finish. Of the grill.
The Dutchman completed the difficult Spa-Francorchamps layout in the second session in one minute and 45.507 seconds, with a comfortable advantage of 0.862 seconds over his main rival in the fight for the title, the Ferrari (NYSE: RACE ) of Charles Leclerc, which will also start at the back of the grid on Sunday.
The two championship leaders will start in the final places of the race having received engine and gearbox related penalties.
Verstappen leads Leclerc by 80 points in the general classification with nine races to go and does not need to win again to clinch a second successive title if the results go his way.
However, the sanctions will be a blow to Leclerc’s – albeit remote – hopes of closing the gap.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was 13th fastest in the first hour of practice on Friday, moving up to third in the second session, but he also has penalties that will send him to the back on Sunday.
Canadian Lance Stroll was fourth in Aston Martin, ahead of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, who set the pace in Friday’s first session.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, seeking his first win of the season in an increasingly competitive Mercedes, was sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Alpine and George Russell’s Mercedes.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who will leave McLaren at the end of the season, was ninth and Sergio Pérez completed the top 10 in his Red Bull.
The second session was trouble-free compared to the first, which was interrupted by a red flag after Kevin Magnussen stopped on track in his Haas.
However, some drivers went off track on a circuit covered in fog and dampened by intermittent drizzle.