The Friday in F1 Belgian GP had mixed weather conditions which made it trickier for many, as certain moments only made it tougher with offs/crashes.
The weather played some role on Friday of F1 Belgian GP, as the closeness between Red Bull and Mercedes couldn’t be ascertained fully. In fact, the former’s Max Verstappen was fastest in FP2 – only by just – where the latter used medium tyres to set their best lap.
It sounds like advantage Mercedes, but the lack of clean runs did not help as much. Valtteri Bottas, though, looked in a better shape than Lewis Hamilton, but the Brit mostly manages to catch up and pass him by the F1 weekends ends, as recent results suggests.
Hamilton conceded that the car did not feel underneath him, where they couldn’t fix on a balanced run, to extract the utmost. Overall, it was a decent two sessions, something which Bottas agreed too. It is unclear if they would have much quicker on soft tyres.
Even though Verstappen had a crash, the Dutchman felt good all-through with the car. A sudden oversteer moment caught him out, but he would be mindful if it happens in qualifying and or a race, as he found out in the races before, it only needs one moment.
Teammate Sergio Perez echoed Verstappen in terms of the pace, even though, he couldn’t show it fully. Mercedes reckon Red Bull has an edge, but it can’t be said for certain, as the former has shown that they can fightback through a F1 weekend.
Hamilton: “It’s been an OK day. A bit miserable here huh? But it’s been an OK day. The sessions are very short so… there’s not a lot of knowledge you’re gaining from the short time you have so we’re trying to navigate the best way you can. At least it was dry for FP2 so we got some laps in. but the car wasn’t quite underneath me today. We’ll do some work tonight and try to figure that out.
“It didn’t look too bad today and the pace on short runs and long runs was pretty decent. Always tricky to compare in detail from practice but at least the feeling was good, that’s a positive. Definitely we seem quite fast in the straight line – maybe less so in Sector 2 with the corners – but probably for me in the race it’s important for me to be quick in Sector 1 and 3. Everything feels good. It’s going to be as we saw, close with Red Bull, no doubt. Just need to find marginal gains tonight.”
Verstappen: “I don’t know, I just lost the rear, did a bit too much oversteer to correct and unfortunately hit the wall. It was good two sessions. I think the whole day we were quite happy. Of course a few things to fine tune from FP1 to FP2 but overall we’ve been very happy. I think definitely a very positive start. I didn’t change anything on my car with the wing level, so I felt happy with what I had. But of course, a few things to take into consideration with the weather as well.”
The grid behind the Top 2 F1 teams was mixed up with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly up there along with the Alpine pair. McLaren’s Lando Norris showed some pace, while Ferrari had a mixed bag, especially with the crash of Charles Leclerc – much like Verstappen.
Both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz looked to have better pace, but they will have to be mindful of troubles, while Gasly along with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon had a relative smoother run in the Top 10. The latter did spin, but it was fine overall, while the former gave us a different view with the drivers’ eye camera.
Norris looked to be part of the mix with the Aston Martin duo – also in the Top 10 in FP2 – and also Daniel Ricciardo not far behind the group. Everyone in the group were wary of the weather, though, which could play a part in deciding the tight midfield F1 pack.
Leclerc: “It’s been a very tricky day overall, I think for everyone, because of the conditions, but yes, we have one night to work on the car, to come back stronger. Obviously I would have preferred to not end the day in the wall today but it’s part of free practice and I’ll try not to re-do this mistake, these mistakes, later on. FP1 felt quite good. But FP2 didn’t feel great, so we need to understand because we didn’t change much on the car so there’s definitely plenty to understand and hopefully we’ll do a good enough job.
“But yes, I am confident that we will be able to do a good enough job to understand what went wrong in FP2 to be better. I think it’s going to be like this for the rest of the weekend so we just need to be adapting ourselves as quickly as possible to try and have a set-up that is going good as well on the dry than on the rain and once we achieve that, then after, we are ready for a good weekend.”
Alonso: “It was a good day for us, the car felt fast. It was not easy to drive, I have to say, we kept changing things on the car because we still have to fine-tune a little bit the set-up. But it seems the timed lap is coming quite nicely and we are fast, so that’s a good sign and let’s see. I think the weather is going to be the biggest thing this weekend. So far it has been dry, but we cannot be 100% sure for Saturday and Sunday.”
Gasly: “I must say, coming back from summer break, we haven’t run in the car for a few weeks, all the mechanics and engineers have been away, so it’s good to restart in the best shape possible. And that’s exactly what we did this morning with the third fastest time, and this afternoon with the fifth fastest time. So very positive start and it’s good to see. There’s always some extra speed to find, and I think we know the areas to focus on. The weather, we saw it the track conditions have changed five or six times since this morning, so it could be wet. We need to be prepared for all sorts of conditions, but at least the baseline we have seems to work, and I’m just happy to be back driving and I hope we can confirm our good pace.”
Norris: “I’m happy with the first day back. Obviously, everyone’s getting back into it a little bit, but it was a positive day. We made some good improvements with the car, we tried some things between sessions and I think we have a good direction to explore overnight so we can go into FP3 and qualifying with a slightly better car. It’s been tricky, especially with the weather, but I’m confident that we have a good enough car to bring the challenge to the competition and get a good result in qualifying.”
There were interesting battles among Alfa Romeo, Williams and Haas – mostly the trio had their drivers fighting each other. The former saw Antonio Giovinazzi ahead, while the latter had Nikita Mazepin and the middle seeing a mixed bag.
For Raikkonen, though, it seemed like two rookie mistakes – one with the spin at La Source and the other hitting the wall at pit entry. For Mazepin, it is unclear if the new chassis has worked in his favour or if the German was just taking it a bit slow. As for Williams, George Russell noted that he needs to work a bit, while Nicholas Latifi felt good.
Here’s video of Alonso drivers’ eye cam: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.must-see-helmet-camera-delivers-an-incredible-onboard-lap-of-spa-through-the.SO0Q4HgNGYP3LVbgAT9uA.html
Here’s how F1 Belgian GP FP1 panned out
Here’s how F1 Belgian GP FP2 panned out