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Verstappen tops Spa practice from Leclerc but both at back of grid

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Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), Aug 27 (Ajit Weekly News) Max Verstappen was in a league of his own in second practice for the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix on Friday but like his main rival Charles Leclerc will start the race from the back of the grid.

Red Bull driver Verstappen and Ferrari’s Leclerc are among six drivers who have had changes of their power unit components beyond the legal season limit — seemingly choosing the Belgian race because overtaking is easier there than at other grands prix, reports DPA. The Sunday grid will be fully determined after Saturday’s qualifying, with McLaren’s Lando Norris, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Haas driver Mick Schumacher and Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo the other four to move to the back.

That could open the door for the other Red Bull and Ferrari drivers Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz, respectively, to battle for victory in the first race after a four-week summer break.

Mercedes could also chase a first season win from George Russell or Lewis Hamilton, who has won at least one race in every season he has been in since a 2007 debut.

But Verstappen won the last race in Hungary from 10th on the grid to lead the championship 80 points ahead of Leclerc into the final nine of 22 season races, with Perez another five points behind.

After coming third in the first session behind the Ferrari duo, Verstappen dominated the afternoon’s 60 minutes by clocking 1 minute 45.507 seconds on the 7.004-kilometres course in the Ardennes.

Leclearc was a massive .865 of a second back in second place, and Norris was third more than a second back in a session which saw a some rain towards the end.

Lance Stroll of Aston Martin was fourth, Hamilton sixth behind Sainz, Russell eighth and Perez 10th.

Showers are forecast for Saturday but Sunday is to be sunny — a year after Verstappen won a ‘race’ over two laps behind the safety car in torrential rain at the famous course.

In the first session Red Bull junior and F2 driver Liam Lawsom was 19th, more than 5 seconds back in a first taste at F1 in Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri. Gasly was 14th in the afternoon.

–Ajit Weekly News


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