Hamilton crashes in Belgian GP final practice, Leclerc and Ferrari fastest

Charles Leclerc headed another Free Practice 1-2 for Scuderia Ferrari at the Belgian Grand Prix, as Formula 1 rival Mercedes AMG Motorsport faces a challenge to repair Lewis Hamilton‘s car for qualifying.

Championship leader Hamilton lost control of his car under braking for the quick Fagnes chicane halfway through the 60-minute session, and the resulting damage to the left front corner may put his participation in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session in doubt.

Television pictures showed that the Brit braked on the outside kerb and was powerless to keep the Mercedes out of the barrier and prompting a red flag period.

It adds to the team’s worries heading into the business end of the weekend at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, as Ferrari ended the session nearly half-a-second ahead of the fastest Mercedes.

Leclerc’s lap time of a 1:44.206 was 0.451 seconds faster than team-mate Sebastian Vettel‘s best effort, the gap a fairly similar one to Friday afternoon’s Free Practice 2 result.

The Ferrari drivers assumed control of the session early on and never relinquished it, Vettel eclipsing Leclerc in the opening stages of the session before the Monégasque roared back to the top of the standings after the end of the 15-minute red flag stoppage.

Hamilton ended the session in seventh, over a second adrift of Leclerc’s pace, leaving Valtteri Bottas to head the Mercedes charge.

Lewis Hamilton - Formula 1 - 2019 Belgian GP
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

The Finn, who recently extended his contract with Mercedes for the 2020 season, was only a further 0.046s behind Vettel.

Daniel Ricciardo showed promise for the Renault F1 Team in fourth place, the Australian the final man inside a second of Leclerc’s benchmark.

Red Bull Racing headliner Max Verstappen suffered another frustrating session in front of a largely partizan crowd, complaining about the performance of his car under braking with a low-downforce setup on his way to fifth – with Sergio Pérez in close company for the Racing Point F1 Team.

Red Bull made the decision to split Verstappen and new team-mate Alexander Albon‘s Free Practice 3 programmes, as Albon focussed on nailing his race configuration with a steeper rear wing – having been given a number of engine penalties in the hope that Spa’s layout can aid his recovery from the back of the grid.

Both Alfa Romeo Racing cars ended the session in the top 10, with Kimi Räikkönen ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi, while Pierre Gasly rounded out the first half of the field for Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Pos. No. Driver Nat. Team Time Gap
1 16 Charles Leclerc MON Scuderia Ferrari 1:44.206 -
2 5 Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari 1:44.657 +0.451
3 77 Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 1:44.703 +0.497
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo AUS Renault F1 Team 1:44.974 +0.768
5 33 Max Verstappen NED Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 1:45.312 +1.106
6 11 Sergio Pérez MEX SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team 1:45.521 +1.315
7 44 Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 1:45.566 +1.360
8 7 Kimi Räikkönen FIN Alfa Romeo Racing 1:45.659 +1.453
9 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ITA Alfa Romeo Racing 1:45.688 +1.482
10 10 Pierre Gasly FRA Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda 1:45.752 +1.546
11 8 Romain Grosjean FRA Rich Energy Haas F1 Team 1:45.806 +1.600
12 27 Nico Hülkenberg GER Renault F1 Team 1:45.855 +1.649
13 20 Kevin Magnussen DEN Rich Energy Haas F1 Team 1:46.004 +1.798
14 55 Carlos Sainz Jr. ESP McLaren F1 Team 1:46.017 +1.811
15 4 Lando Norris GBR McLaren F1 Team 1:46.270 +2.064
16 18 Lance Stroll CAN SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team 1:46.379 +2.173
17 26 Daniil Kvyat RUS Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda 1:46.642 +2.436
18 63 George Russell GBR ROKiT Williams Racing 1:47.858 +3.652
19 88 Robert Kubica POL ROKiT Williams Racing 1:48.350 +4.144
20 23 Alexander Albon THA Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 1:50.681 +6.475

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