F1 2021 Belgian GP: Leclerc, Verstappen cause red flags in practice
Rain did not cause much concerns to the teams in Spa on Friday. However, two red flags in the final 20 minutes of FP2 did more than enough damage to the weekend of both Ferrari and Red Bull. Mercedes must feel in form to start the second half of the season.
With cloudy weather and a damp track it was a quiet start to the weekend in Spa, Belgium. The Ferraris were the first cars to go out trying on intermediate tyres. Carlos Sainz was qouick to report back to his gaage that the track was dry enough for slicks.
The first corner caught out drivers in the beginning of the session. Both Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda spun there, Tsunoda even blocking the pit exit for a brief moment.
Red Bull lead the session for quite long, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez having set fast lap times early in the session. Verstappen kept improving his time and retained his top spot until Valtteri Bottas put his Mercedes on the top with seven tenths of a difference to Verstappen.
Rain began closing in on the track with ten minutes to go in FP1, resulting in most of the grid wrapping up their planned sessions slightly before the chequered flag.
We received big news before the start of FFP2 as Red Bull announced that Sergio Perez would remain at Red Bull in 2022.
Bottas opened the session with once again a damp track on intermediate tires, reporting the track is too dry for inters. After 15 minutes the drivers were finishing their first timed laps on slicks, with Bottas leading on 1:44.513, Hamilton following closely behind by 31 thousandths. Verstappen sat comfortably in third, six tenths behind the Mercedes duo however.
Hamilton was the first car out on soft compound, but failed to improve his time on his first try. Verstappen’s attempts on the softs brought him the top spot on the leaderboard, overtaking Bottas by 0.041s.
Esteban Ocon had a big spin in the exit of turn 13, but the Frenchman reported no damage on his Alpine car. Minutes later Charles Leclerc crashed in turn 7, causing red flags for 10 minutes. The session was able to resume with eight minutes left on the clock, meaning many teams were not able to complete their plans for the session.
Another red flag appeared with three minutes left in FP2, as Max Verstappen had crashed his Red Bull in the exit of the same corner where Leclerc had crashed before. The rear of his Red Bull was totaled, and the Dutchman could not move his car back to the garage.