Spa-Francorchamps (dpa) – Sebastian Vettel threatens the next serious embarrassment at one of his favorite jobs. The four-time Formula 1 world champion drove kilometers behind the leaders on Friday during practice for the Belgian Grand Prix.
In the faster afternoon session, Vettel was almost two seconds short of the fastest man of the day, Max Verstappen in the lame Ferrari.
The 22-year-old Dutchman, born in Hasselt, Belgium, got in the mood for the next attack on Mercedes with season dominator Lewis Hamilton, even without an orange stand and thousands of Dutch fans. The Briton had to settle for third place, 98 thousandths of a second behind Verstappen, on the 7,004 kilometer long Ardennes roller coaster.
Just like Vettel, Hamilton has already won there three times. The 35-year-old Mercedes Brit is back as a favorite so far after four wins in the six races of the season. Teammate Valtteri Bottas could not cherish his hope that he would regain his strength after third place in Spain: after the fastest lap in the morning, he was only sixth on his 31st birthday in the afternoon, more than four tenths of a second slower than Verstappen. .
Vettel would be happy with that! He always had trouble keeping the red SF1000 on track. The tires continued to smoke, the car rumbling over the curbs. On the infamous motorcycle route, where the engines are essential to success, teammate Charles Leclerc couldn’t get much out of the car.
The 22-year-old Monegasse was about 48 hours before the race on Sunday (3.10 p.m. / Sky and RTL) 15th at 1,696 seconds behind Verstappen. In the slower first session of an hour and a half in the morning, Leclerc, winner in Spa a year ago, in 14th place and Vettel, winner in Spa two years ago, in 15th place already looked devastating. The next red fiasco threatens them in Spa. The midfield is so tight, practically anything is possible between fifth and fifteenth place, Vettel had said the day before.
Others, however, provided positive surprises. Just like Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian made it in the Renault with only 48 thousandths of a second behind in second place behind Verstappen and ahead of Hamilton, but was ordered by his command post to park his car early on the edge of the track.
In the standings, Verstappen, who has won a race so far this year, could close the gap on Hamilton with another victory. For the seventh round of the World Cup, he is in second place with 37 points less. Bottas is third with 43 points behind.