Charles Leclerc headed team-mate Sebastian Vettel during the second practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix, after Vettel led the way earlier on in the day during the first practice session, meanwhile the Mercedes drivers played second fiddle and Red Bull had some catching up to do.
Leclerc’s pace-setting lap-time was a 1.44.123s, which gave the Monegasque driver a 0.630s buffer over his team-mate. The nearest Mercedes was Bottas once again, who was more than 0.8s adrift, with Hamilton swiftly followed in the other Mercedes.
After a strong closing to the first half of the season, Red Bull struggled more to deliver on this power-hungry Spa circuit, as Verstappen finished the session in sixth place and more than a second off Leclerc’s headline lap-time, with his new team-mate Alex Albon only 10th.
After concerns voiced if Kimi Raikkonen was fit to contest at the Belgian Grand Prix, the Finn showed he was in a perfectly fit condition, as once again he placed the Alfa Romeo right in the sharp end of the field in seventh place, with Sergio Perez’s Racing Point the only midfield team ahead of the Finn.
Ferrari’s pace advantage comes as no surprise, as given the philosophy of their 2019 car, the Scuderia went for a low drag concept, giving it the upper hand over its rivals in terms of outright straight-line speed, and as evident in the previous few races, great high speed direction change. This has given Ferrari a few races to challenge for victory, Bahrain and Canada for instance, but it never really materialized. This forthcoming Belgian Grand Prix and the next race at Ferrari’s home could undoubtedly give Ferrari its best chance of the season to nag that first win they are still chasing.
However, it must be noted that Mercedes will still be a force to be reckoned with this weekend. Ferrari could have the upper hand during qualifying and must aim to lock out the front row, however as evident in previous races, the Mercedes drivers tend to come back with superior race pace. Additionally, we must focus on strategy blunders and reliability problems (as seen in Germany) which would break the Ferrari challenge potentially.