Lewis Hamilton upped the pace during the second practice session to head Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, while his main title rival didn’t get the optimum lap, and finished the session in fifth place.
Hamilton’s pace-setting time, a 1.44.753, was some three tenths faster than his nearest Ferrari rival, who showed an upturn in pace following his contract renewal at the Ferrari Formula 1 team.
Hamilton’s usual championship rivals, Bottas and Vettel, didn’t have enough in hand to threaten the Briton drivers pace-setting lap at the front, with Bottas some four tenths adrift, whilst Vettel was a further 0.076s further behind.
Story of the session
As the light went green for the second practice session, the two Haas Formula 1 cars headed to track. Kevin Magnussen was first, who was closely followed by team-mate Romain Grosjean. However, all was not well for the American based F1 team, as both their drivers’ DRS wing didn’t shut following their installation lap, and were called back in.
Keen to fix his pointless season, and re-earn his reputation, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer headed to track. The Briton was first to register a time in this session, and set a 1.48.846.
The leading teams started to take to circuit, as the grip around the iconic Spa circuit bettered. Kimi Raikkonen, who headed the first practice session, went fastest, with a 1.47.049, however that time was over a second slower than the fastest he managed during the morning session. His team-mate, meanwhile, made an error on his first lap, as he bagged it at the nameless downhill corner.
Behind the Ferrari’s was Daniil Kvyat — who is currently running excessively high on penalty points following his run-ins — and the under fire Russian went second, just over a second adrift of Raikkonen’s time.
Despite the power demands of the iconic Spa circuit, Red Bull had also begun to show their hand, in their bid to outscore Ferrari during the second part of this F1 season. Verstappen pipped Raikkonen to the top spot, but the championship leader was finally able to get a clean lap together, and went fastest by 0.076s over the most popular teenager in Spa.
It wasn’t until 20 minutes into the session that the two Mercedes cars headed to track, however, despite their extended lunch period, they were straight onto the pace. Hamilton was quick to beat the field on soft tyres, despite all other competitive times being set on the super-soft tyre. Hamilton easily rocketed to the top of the time-sheets with a 1.45.634, which put him 0.694s clear of the field.
Vettel was first of the front-runners to head onto the ultra-soft tyre, and went fastest – however just 0.399s faster than Hamilton’s soft tyre — indicating a particular advantage to the Briton in this intense title battle. The Brit’s team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, soon pipped Vettel by 0.055s to head the time-sheets.
Raikkonen, who looks to be on much better form following his resigning at the Scuderia, soon pipped Bottas to go fastest by a tenth, however was some 0.6s up on his fellow countryman in the middle sector – which indicated that there is more in the bag for the Ferrari driver.
As the drivers started putting the gremlin down, nobody could rule out a classic Hamilton flyer, as the three-time world champion went fastest with a 1.44.753.