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AFP

the 08/27/2021 at 5:31 p.m.

4 min read

Max Verstappen took the lead with the fastest time in the Belgian Grand Prix free practice on Friday at Spa … but ended the day in the wall after losing control of the rear of his car.

Seven kilometers are not enough to separate them: on the longest circuit on the calendar, in the heart of the Belgian Ardennes, Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 2nd in the championship, and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), leader with eight points ahead , were held within a tenth of a second in free practice 2.

What promises, as since the start of the season, a fierce battle for pole position during qualifying for this 12th round, Saturday at 3:00 p.m., with Belgian drizzle at the rendezvous.

While waiting for these qualifiers, preceded by the 3rd practice session on Saturday noon, Verstappen took the fastest time (1: 44.472) ahead of Valtteri Bottas (1: 44.513) and Hamilton (1: 44.544). But three minutes from the end, he made a mistake and hit the protective wall with the rear of his car, before getting out without any problem.

Yin and Yang for the Belgian-born Dutchman, who is counting on two “home” Grands Prix, here and next week in the Netherlands, to take the lead again ahead of his British rival – in search of a 100th victory in GP.

Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who has just extended with Alpine for 2022, took 4th time ahead of Frenchman Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri). The other Frenchman Esteban Ocon (Alpine), just winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix, took 7th time, but got scared with a spin.

Before the accident at Verstappen, the session was interrupted 16 minutes from the end after the departure of the Monegasque Charles Leclerc, who could only take 18th time.

After Alonso on Thursday, midday Friday was chosen by Red Bull to announce the extension for 2022 of Sergio Pérez. The 31-year-old Mexican, far from his team-mate Verstappen, only took 10th in practice after this announcement.

His extension, which is not a surprise, closes the door to a return of Gasly to Red Bull. The Frenchman should continue next year at AlphaTauri, sister team of Red Bull.

Unlike the Austrian team, Mercedes has still not announced the name of its second driver next year to accompany Hamilton. This has to be played out between the current Bottas and the suitor George Russell (Williams).

Last of the timesheet on Friday, Mick Schumacher wore a special helmet, tribute to the 30th anniversary of the first Grand Prix of his father, legend Michael Schumacher.

The Spa-Francorchamps circuit, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2021, hosted the debut of “Schumi” in August 1991, at the wheel of a Jordan … before signing with Benetton at the following GP, taking part in a total of 307 Grands Prix, for 91 victories and seven world titles – a record he now shares with Hamilton.

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