Red Bull rules wet third Belgian GP practice

Max Verstappen edged Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez for the fastest time of final practice at the Belgian Grand Prix. The hour-long session was wet throughout, despite the rain that lashed the track during the morning abating in time for pit lane to open.

Drivers took to the track to embrace the first genuine wet running of the weekend with the forecast of heavy rain for the race in mind, and a greasy dry line emerged as the session progressed.

It was as the track improved that Verstappen — running an even skinnier, lower-downforce rear wing than yesterday despite the wet forecast — rocketed to the top of the time sheet with a lap of 1m56.924s.

The dry line last only briefly, with another shower dousing the track a little past halfway through the session. With conditions deteriorating, Verstappen left his garage with 10 laps under his belt and called it a day.

Teammate Perez was 0.947s adrift despite being the only driver to use a new set of intermediate tires, with the balance of the field making use of the sets run briefly at the start of first practice on Friday.

Title leader Lewis Hamilton was 1.072s off the pace after complaining of a brake problem early in the session.

Lando Norris was strong for McLaren in fourth, the Briton comfortable enough in his McLaren to sample a set of slick soft tires in the final minutes of the session to get his eye in for a possible wet–dry transition in qualifying or the race. Other than a frightening moment of oversteer exiting pit lane, the lap was largely uneventful, although his sector times were uncompetitive in conditions that were clearly far from being conducive to slick rubber.

Esteban Ocon ended the session fifth ahead of Aston Martin teammates Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel in sixth and eighth, sandwiching Pierre Gasly, while George Russell outperformed his Williams to finish ninth ahead of Fernando Alonso.

Valtteri Bottas managed 11th and 2.8s off the pace in the conditions, beating Nicholas Latifi and Daniel Ricciardo. Carlos Sainz was 14th ahead of Haas driver Mick Schumacher and Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, who was piloting a new chassis after his crash in second practice proved too time consuming for his mechanics to repair.

Yuki Tsunoda was 18th ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi and Nikita Mazepin, while Kimi Raikkonen ended the session last after a brake failure forced him to crawl back to pit lane with only three laps to his name.

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