Charles Leclerc set an eye-opening lap to head a one-two in second practice at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old was 0.630 seconds quicker than team-mate Sebastian Vettel – and a massive 0.846secs ahead of the fastest Mercedes of .

Championship leader was fourth, 0.046secs behind his team-mate, but only Leclerc of the drivers in the top teams seemed to manage a clean lap.

Alex Albon was down in 10th, with team-mate Max Verstappen sixth.

Albon, who has been promoted from Toro Rosso for the final nine races of the season, had been right with Verstappen in the first session in the morning but ended the day 0.377secs off the Dutchman’s pace.

Vettel, Hamilton and Verstappen all made errors at the final chicane on their laps. Albon’s lap looked uncomfortable and while Leclerc also went into the Bus Stop chicane a little deep, he lost less time than the other top drivers.

The cars were showing wildly different performance profiles.

were blisteringly quick on the straights, with Leclerc 0.8secs quicker than the Mercedes in the first sector, which includes the flat-out drag from La Source hairpin to the Les Combes chicane, and 0.2secs up in the final sector, including the run through Blanchimont.

But Mercedes were nearly 0.4secs quicker than in the middle section, which includes the vast majority of the corners at Spa-Francorchamps.

However, Mercedes clearly have more pace to find, as Bottas and Hamilton were only 0.1secs quicker than the of Sergio Perez in fifth place.

And on the race-simulation runs later in the session, Mercedes appeared to have a significant advantage not only on absolute pace, but also on tyre degradation, which was much more pronounced on the .

Lance Stroll

were more competitive on the medium tyre, on which Verstappen’s appeared quickest, and that may iuence their decision as to how to run their qualifying strategy and therefore on which tyre to start the race.

Perez’s strong session ended in sadness, when he pulled off with what looked like an engine problem. He appeared very unhappy as he climbed out of the car – and may be fearing a grid penalty.

Behind Verstappen in sixth, ’s Alfa Romeo was seventh, ahead of Lance Stroll’s , Daniel ’s and Albon.

There are a number of grid penalties caused by excessive engine changes already confirmed, largely as a result of upgraded engines being introduced by all manufacturers apart from .

Albon, Stroll and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat will start from the back and , his team-mate and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz have five-place penalties.

Max Verstappen
Charles Leclerc


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