Belgian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen fastest for Red Bull despite crash

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Red Bull's Max Vertappen crashed at Friday's Belgian Grand Prix practice after setting the fastest time in front of both Mercedes drivers.

Eight points behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, the Dutchman lost control of the championship at Malmedy right-hander.

Verstappen crashed into the wall, ending the session prematurely.

He stated that he had lost his rear end, was a little too oversteered to correct and hit the wall.

Verstappen was 0.39 seconds faster than Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton was third.

Hamilton was only 0.031 seconds behind his team-mate. However, Red Bull and Mercedes drivers used different tires to set their times.

Verstappen was fastest on the soft-compound tire, the theoretical fastest, while the Mercedes drivers were faster on the medium.

Bottas as well Hamilton did not improve with soft tyres.

Mercedes used a lower power engine mode to run on the soft tire than the medium. Neither driver was happy with the car's handling on the soft tyre.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari's driver, also crashed at the Les Combes chicane one corner before Verstappen. Leclerc was stopped mid-session, and the car was taken out.

Leclerc drove a bit too fast into the chicane and managed to negotiate the first right-hander. However, the car was a bit wide as it went through the next left. As he attempted to move to the Malmedy right-hander, he lost control.

Leclerc stated that it was a difficult day for everyone due to the weather conditions. We have one night to fix the car and make it stronger.

"I would prefer not to end my day in the wall but it is free practice and I will not repeat these mistakes later.

"It felt good in the first session, but it didn't feel great in P2. It is important to understand this because it was not something we changed on the car.

Additionally, Kimi Raikkonen from Alfa Romeo and Yuki Tsunoda of Alpha Tauri spun at the La Source hairpin in the first session. The Finn then crashed into the pit wall as he made his way to the pits.

Set-up conundrums for Mercedes

Mercedes spent the day comparing different levels of downforce on a track where it is difficult to choose the best aerodynamic setup.

You can choose between low downforce which ensures high straight-line speed in the first and second sectors and more downforce which compromises speed in the straights in the middle sector.

Bottas preferred low-downforce setup - he is currently on a five-place grid penalty after causing the crash at Hungary's last race. He must be able overtake in the next race. Hamilton stated that it was difficult to make a decision.

He said, "This morning, we had it one-way and we changed it today." "Trying to find the balance can be quite difficult."

Hamilton stated that heavy flooding in the area, which caused extensive damage and many deaths earlier this summer, had also altered the track, creating a bump in the middle Eau Rouge swerves.

It is a wonderful circuit. He added that it is now very bumpy through Eau Rouge. "There's a huge bump right at the compression level that we have never seen before. It's very sharp. It's felt on the backside. It could have been the mudslides or the rain.

Verstappen was the Red Bull's higher downforce driver and said that he was satisfied with the car.

He said, "It was great." "The entire day was very happy. There were a few things that needed to be fine-tuned, but it was a positive start."

Mixed conditions are forecast for the weekend and there is a chance of a wet-race in which a higher downforce would be preferable, complicating the decision.

Alpine's Fernando Alonso, an Alpine, was fourth fastest behind the top three. He was ahead of Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll from Aston Martin, as well as the second Alpine of Esteban Obon.

McLaren's Lando norris, a McLaren driver, was ninth fastest after Sebastian Vettel from Aston Martin and ahead of Carlos Sainz from Ferrari.

George Russell, Williams' driver, was 17th.