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Belgian Grand Prix practice, results, times, grid penalties, Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Daniel Ricciardo reaction

Max Verstappen found authority and composure as he dominated practice at the Belgian Grand Prix and dismissed concerns about starting the race from the back of the grid.

Red Bull’s world champion and series leader delighted the fans at the majestic Spa-Francorchamps circuit with a best lap time of one minute and 45.507 seconds to beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by eight-tenths of a second.

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It is very sad to see what happened to Ricciardo 02:00

“We’re very happy about it,” he said.

“We didn’t have much to do or worry about, grid penalty – we were just looking to set up the car as best as possible.

“There are some adjustments we need to make, but we’re very happy with the first run and the plan. The car is running well, which is positive, but we want to run a bit more. Both Verstappen and Leclerc are taking new power-unit parts, which will take more than their authorized allocation for the season and will have grid penalties.

That means they will start at the back of the field for the Belgian race weekend, along with four other drivers who opted to switch to new engines.

“I have to try and work from the back of the grid,” said Verstappen.

But at least we should have dry conditions. I think it’s worse than the weather today.

Max Verstappen isn't too worried.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Max Verstappen isn’t too worried. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner explained why they chose to fit a fourth engine, turbocharger and other parts this race, saying it was a strategic decision because the long and fast Belgian circuit offers easy overtaking opportunities.

“We looked at the calendar and we were running out of options, but this is a good way to go and we feel we have to be quick here,” he said.

On an uneventful and somewhat cloudy day, Lando Norris was third for McLaren ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz, who was fifth in the second Ferrari after timing out in the morning’s opening practice.

What are the F1 options for Ricciardo? 02:49

Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, who is chasing a sixth consecutive podium in the race, finished sixth ahead of two-time champion Fernando Alonso in the second Mercedes and George Russell in the Mercedes.

Daniel Ricciardo, who announced he will be leaving McLaren at the end of the year after agreeing to terminate his contract, was ninth and Sergio Perez, the second Red Bull, was 10th.

Ricciardo may leave F1 | 03:48

Hamilton said he believes Mercedes can bounce back from Friday’s disappointing performance and mount a challenge again, especially if other drivers are taking penalties.

“We’re not very fast and I don’t know why, but I went out and gave it my all. It could be tires, heat or something else,” he said.

“But it’s not a disaster there… we’re a long way off… we get this often on Friday and things can change on Saturday.” I hope we can change it.

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