F1 Belgian Grand Prix LIVE: FP3 latest, qualifying build-up, Verstappen and Hamilton fighting for win – updates – The Sun

F1 is back from a two-week break as the season moves on to the challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.

Valterri Bottas and Max Verstappen were the fastest at practice, with Lewis Hamilton looking to win this Grand Prix for the first time since 2017.

Follow all the latest build-up ahead of the big race on Sunday below…

  • LACK OF RUNNING

    It is a bit of a surprise to see such a low amount of laps on the board for an FP3 session, especially given the weather is largely dry.

    Could be a frantic final eight minutes.

    Biggest thing learned so far is that McLaren are down on pace but Renault look quick.

  • WORD ON RENAULT

    Daniel Ricciardo was quick in FP2 yesterday and Esteban Ocon is quick in parts today.

  • FERRARI CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE

    Sebastian Vettel is down in 15th place. There is a real danger that they will not get into Q2.

    The lap times are 1.3seconds DOWN on last year.

    What is going on at Ferrari?

    Since that hushed-up FIA investigation into their engine, they have been woeful.

  • …AND NOW IT IS HAMILTON AND BOTTAS

    As the Finn goes quickest.

    The Mercedes are a whopping 0.7seconds clear of the Racing Point of Perez.

    That is a huge amount.

  • ALEX ALBON GOES QUICKEST…

    He's set the benchmark on the medium tyre but that will be replaced in seconds by Hamilton, who is quicker on the softs.

  • RICCIARDO IS OK

    The Renault man was second-quickest in FP2.

  • FP3 IS GO

    Can anyone unlock more potential form their cars to challenge Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for pole?

    It is cold but dry in Spa, that suits Mercedes down to the ground.

  • LAP IT UP

    Fans are convinced history could be made at the Bahrain Outer Track.

  • BULL-ISH MOOD

    Lewis Hamilton is excited about the prospect of a close race with Red Bull in Belgium, after his third place finish in FP2.

    Mercedes have not won at Spa-Francorchamps since 2017 and Hamilton is looking to end that jinx this weekend.

    He said: “It’s been generally a good day – I love driving round this track, it’s incredible.

    “Fortunately, it was dry for us, so it gave us plenty of time to understand the car, plenty of time to get some running in. It was very close out there.

    “I think the Red Bulls are a little bit quicker at the moment, but even the Racing Point is right with us. And then also Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault was very close.

    “You know it makes it exciting. We’ve got some work to do to try to dial in the car, but it doesn’t feel bad at all.”

  • MORNING F1 NEWS

    Max Verstappen topped the second practice for the Belgian GP giving Red Bull renewed hope of taking the fight to Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team.

    The Dutchman was quickest around the Spa circuit with Hamilton posting a time that was good enough for third behind Daniel Ricciardo.

    The top three were separated by only 0.096 seconds yet it was a different story for Ferrari.

    Sebastian Vettel, who was on pole 12 months ago, was down in 17th place behind George Russell's Williams.

    And his teammate, Charles Leclerc, was not much better, posting only the 15th quickest time of the afternoon session.

    Meanwhile, F1 have released details of a second race in Bahrain where records will be smashed.

    The Sakhir circuit will host two GPs later in the year with the second installment on December 6th, raced around the outer track.

    F1 predict that a lap for qualifying will take just 55 seconds, while in race trim the cars will still be lapping at under a minute a lap.

    The 3.543km track has just 11 corners and is the second-shortest on the calendar behind Monaco.

    However, the speeds will be considerably higher in Bahrain, meaning the amount of laps has been set at a dizzying 87 for the full race distance.

    And finally, Bernie Ecclestone is NOT the mysterious buyer of the Williams Formula One team – as questions are raised about the future of the family dynasty.

    Williams said last week that the team had been sold to American private investment firm, Dorilton Capital.

    The New York-based company paid £136million for complete control but on further investigation, the sale has been transferred to a company called BCE Limited, a fund managed by Dorilton Capital.

    Little is known about BCE and the team's deputy team boss, Claire Williams refused to divulge any details – but she did rule out a sale to former F1 supremo, Ecclestone, who shares the same initials as the secretive owners.

    She said: “I spoke to Mr Ecclestone earlier in the week, and I did ask if it was him behind it. That's a joke, by the way, it's not. Bernie has nothing to do with our new ownership.”

  • LEW BEAUTY

    As well as his own future, Toto Wolff has also dodged questions about signing Lewis Hamilton up to a new deal.

    The Mercedes team boss made a reference to when they completed the Brit's last deal over a pizza.

    He added: “Lots of pizzas to be eaten and lots of things to be discussed.

    “It is a funny situation because we get along so well, we are hesitant to have the difficult discussions.”

  • LONE WOLFF

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has swerved questions about his future.

    The Austrian is out of contract at the end of the year and said two weeks ago he was reevaluating his future.

    And when quizzed on TV if he has reached a decision, he quipped: “Maybe I will work for Sky and do some of the analysis.

    “I come fresh out of the job and have a lot of information if you offer me a good deal.”

  • WILLIAMS ADDED

    When quizzed about her position, she added: “This is very early days and it is business as usual. I am running the team in my capacity and that will continue to be the case.

    “I would be lying if I didn't say it had been an emotional few months but we have managed to get our heads around it and that is a good thing.

    “At Williams, we have always put the team first. It has been at the heart of the Williams' family.

    “We put our people first and our success and the future of our team first when making decisions in what we do.

    “So it was almost a no-brainer for us. The team needed the investment and it now has a really bright future under its new owners and you will see the Williams name racing in Formula One.

    “I am really pleased that the Concorde Agreement and most importantly, the financial regulations that are coming through with the cost cap and the redistribution of the prize money.

    “It will make a big difference for teams like ours and whether the Williams family own it or not, it doesn't matter.”

  • WILLIAMS CONTINUED

    “But they have done a lot of due diligence and gone through everything to understand our team and the sport.

    “They have some very strong advisors who have been helping them through this to build their knowledge.

    “They are already working in the team in order to understand what is required going forward.

    “I have absolute confidence they are the right people to take this team forward.”

    When pushed as to who BCE were, the new owners, Williams simply said “I have no comment to make”.

  • WILL I NEVER

    Bernie Ecclestone is NOT the mysterious buyer of the Williams Formula One team – as questions are raised about the future of the family dynasty.

    Williams said last week that the team had been sold to American private investment firm, Dorilton Capital.

    The New York-based company paid £136million for complete control but on further investigation, the sale has been transferred to a company called BCE Limited, a fund managed by Dorilton Capital.

    Little is known about BCE and the team's deputy team boss, Claire Williams refused to divulge any details – but she did rule out a sale to former F1 supremo, Ecclestone, who shares the same initials as the secretive owners.

    She said: “I spoke to Mr. Ecclestone earlier in the week, and I did ask if it was him behind it. That's a joke, by the way, it's not. Bernie has nothing to do with our new ownership.

    “Dorilton Capital is completely independent and Bernie is not the new owner of Williams. I cannot get into a whole lot of detail of the people behind Dorilton, that will become clearer over the coming weeks and months.”

  • FP2 IS DONE

    Verstappen sets the pace to go quickest while Daniel Ricciardo is second before suffering a loss of hydraulic pressure.

    Hamilton in third but don't be fooled. He is on the hardest, slower tyre. He is still looking good here.

  • SESSION HAS RESTARTED

    Final few laps now and it is Verstappen, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Albon, Perez, Bottas.

    Bottom few: Magnussen, Grosjean, Latifi, Vettel, Russell, Leclerc, Raikkonen.

  • RED FLAG

    Session has been stopped because there is debris at Turn One.

    It was caused by an accident into the barriers in one of the support races, as the advertising hoardings came loose.

    Session will restart for the final 10 minutes.

  • RICCIARDO STOPS ON TRACK

    He's had a solid day until now. He's second on the time sheets.

    But he's being pushed off track.

  • FERRARI WOES

    Worth remembering that Ferrari were on pole by 0.748s at Spa-Francorchamps 12 months ago.

    Now they are in 15th and 17th place and, based on that, will struggle to get out of Q1.

  • GROSJEAN IS NOW OUT ON TRACK TOO

    Like Magnussen, he is making up for lost time.

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