Verstappen subject to Mercedes

Red Bull stayed 81 thousandths behind Bottas, leading the standings. Carlos Sainz signed the eighth fastest time of the first training session.


Complex climatology, the summer of Spa-Francorchamps is nothing like that of Barcelona, in fact the rain can surprise at any time of the weekend. The asphalt was cold on the first morning of practice, times are never binding at these grand prix heights but at least Max Verstappen holds the expected first stake from the two Mercedes. The Dutchman finished 81 thousandths behind Valtteri Bottas, at the top of the leaderboard. That handicap would be acceptable for Red Bull to fight for victory on Sunday. The problem is that only a tenth of Lewis's rent over the Racing Points, the 2019 Mercedes, seems unreal on a circuit of seven kilometers and 1:44 minutes of travel. Something does not add up.

Black cars will progress, get their usual eight tenths, or correct sooner rather than later what has held them so far. It was not the Finn's most precise session, with some blocking and a walk through the loophole. In fact, he suffered a puncture on his Pirelli soft tire (here it's the C4) which was reminiscent of the final drama of 'Silverstone 2' and puts the teams and the tire manufacturer on alert. Behind them, solid Racing Point with Pérez ahead of Stroll and Alex Albon's sixth time half a second behind his teammate.

Carlos Sainz set the eighth best time with the McLaren, only Esteban Ocon (Renault) slipped ahead of him among the unusual. The two teams are even in Belgium, Ricciardo and Norris rounded out this first top-10. The weekend looks worse for Ferrari, with a car without top speed on the circuit that demands the most power on the entire calendar. Leclerc and Vettel, 14th and 15th so far. You better be patient in the red garage ...

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