Max Verstappen Leads as Mercedes Struggle During a Rain-Soaked Session at Spa

Published 08/28/2021, 7:01 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – August 28, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during practice REUTERS/Johanna Geron


After what was a very close battling between Red Bull and Mercedes on Friday, the rain managed to mix the grid up over the final F1 practice session of Belgian GP at Spa Francorchamps.

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Max Verstappen led the pack, ahead of his teammate, Sergio Perez, setting a positive tone for Red Bull ahead of the approaching Belgian GP qualifying. Behind the duo was Lewis Hamilton, who looked very much in his comfort zone throughout the session, followed by Lando Norris in P4.

Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – August 28, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during practice REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Rains did remain distant during the early part of the session. However, as F1 moved deeper into FP3, rains made a return, as the drivers used it as the right chance to gain some data on the intermediate tires.

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Mercedes vs Red Bull: How FP3 session unfolded

The stewards declared the track as wet, as the drivers started the session on intermediate tires. And a lot of drivers including George Russell and Nikita Mazepin had a moment. While the former ended up missing the bus stop chicane and ran wide, the latter ran wide off turn 8.

Soon after, Sebastian Vettel and Carlos Sainz, too, ran wide off several turns. Also, misery struck Kimi Raikkonen, as the Finn suffered brake failures, and ended up spending most of the session in the garage.

Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – August 28, 2021 Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. during practice REUTERS/Johanna Geron

But, contrastingly, Mercedes’ Hamilton looked very much comfortable, as the Briton kept churning out decent laps, with his fastest being 1:57:996.

However, with the track evolving quite rapidly, Verstappen soon clocked a lap time of 1:56:924, over a second quicker than his rival. Soon after, Sergio Perez put up a decent enough lap to secure a Red Bull 1-2.

Eventually, arriving at the halfway mark, Esteban Ocon ended up being the only driver on the track who was busy doing the long run.

Rains make a comeback

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With 26 minutes left on the clock, the rains made a sudden return. Verstappen was then one of the fewest drivers running on the track and affirmed to the team that the tarmac was slowly going into hiding. Moments later, Carlos Sainz took to team radio, reckoning wet tires were the right choice for the track conditions.

Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – August 28, 2021 Alpine’s Fernando Alonso during practice REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

However, eventually, news arrived that there would be no more rain over the rest of the session. The sun did peep out occasionally, but not enough to dry out the track, as the drivers witnessed the chequered flag on inters.

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Overall, that brings the practice sessions to a close, and the limelight now shifts to the qualifying session which is due in a couple of hours’ time. So, who is going to secure the crucial pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix?

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Rohit Kumar

1137 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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