F1 qualifying LIVE: Hamilton aims for strong performance in third practice at Belgian GP

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Daniel Ricciardo reacts to ‘bittersweet’ McLaren exit

The Formula 1 season returns this weekend after the summer break with the Belgian Grand Prix at the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit with Max Verstappen 80 points ahead of Charles Leclerc in the standings.

The 2021 world champion has won eight of the first thirteen races this season, the last coming a month ago at the Hungarian Grand Prix after a dominant performance as the Belgian-Dutchman stormed through the field from P10. F1’s return to Belgium will come after big news at the end of the summer break, with Daniel Ricciardo leaving McLaren at the end of this season, paving the way for Oscar Piastri to move to McLaren after the 2021 F2 champion falls dramatically turned down a seat at Alpine .

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In practice on Friday, Sainz was fastest in FP1 with Verstappen fastest in second practice. However, Verstappen and Leclerc are one of six drivers to receive power unit penalties this weekend, meaning they will start at the back of the grid for Sunday’s race. The third practice will take place on Saturday at 12 noon and qualifying will follow at 3 p.m. (BST).

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Follow all the action as it happens with TSWT:

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F1 Qualifying – Belgian Grand Prix: Zhou, Bottas, Stroll

Fifteen minutes past and currently two surprising names at the top – the Alfa Romeos from Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas! Lance Stroll, who was fast yesterday, is third with Sebastian Vettel fourth.

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George Russell struggles here early to get temperature in his tires – the same problem he complained about yesterday. It’s a big day for Mercedes, they have a big chance to impress in qualifying given the penalties for Verstappen and Leclerc!

(TSWT via Getty Images)

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Third practice session starts

FP3 coming up on a cloudy Spa-Francorchamps…

Red Bull Racing’s pit stop lights before practice

(Getty images)

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Daniel Ricciardo not ruling out taking one-year sabbatical from F1 after McLaren split

Daniel Ricciardo admits he could retire from Formula in 2023 “if it made sense” as the Australian is looking for a race seat next year.

The 33-year-old McLaren’s departure at the end of this season was announced on Wednesday, with the team paying £8.5million to terminate Ricciardo’s contract a year earlier.

The popular Australian, who started his F1 career with HRT in 2011, will leave after the last nine races of this season, after taking a memorable win at Monza last year – but no podium finishes for McLaren other than that.

By the end of this year, Ricciardo will have raced 11-and-a-half consecutive seasons in Formula 1, and at the drivers’ press conference for F1’s return after the summer break in Belgium this weekend, Ricciardo did not rule out that he took a year-long sabbatical to evaluate his long-term options, but eliminated the idea of ​​entering another motorsport series, such as IndyCar.

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Gasly ‘open’ about future after signing extension at AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly has not yet spoken to any team, including Red Bull, about his future in Formula 1 after signing a contract extension with AlphaTauri until the end of the 2023 season.

The Frenchman has been impressing Red Bull’s sister team since mid-2019 and has been linked to seats at other teams, such as Alpine.

However, the 26-year-old insisted that now was not the right time to assess his long-term future, but admitted he was delighted to have the next step under control.

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Audi will join Formula 1 as a power unit supplier from 2026

Audi will join Formula 1 as a power unit supplier from 2026, following an announcement on Friday morning.

The new F1 powerplant rules for 2026 – with more electric power and 100% sustainable fuels – are designed to make entry to the sport more attractive for newcomers and the German manufacturer is the first confirmed newcomer in four years.

Audi says they will announce a decision on which team they will “line up with by the end of this year”, with the company expected to take a majority stake in Swiss-backed Sauber (currently racing as Alfa Romeo) as full manufacturer.

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Hamilton confident of ending dry spell without a win

Lewis Hamilton has sparked the prospect of ending the leanest period of his Formula 1 career by winning Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

The second half of the season kicks off this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, with a run of nine races in twelve weeks. Hamilton is 112 points behind runaway championship leader Max Verstappen after a poor start to the season for the seven-time world champion and his Mercedes team.

But the British driver entered the summer break after five consecutive podiums – including back-to-back runner-up finishes at the most recent rounds in France and Hungary.

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Current driver standings

1. Max Verstappen – 258 points

2. Charles Leclerc – 178 points

3. Sergio Perez – 173 points

4. George Russell – 158 points

5. Carlos Sainz – 156 points

6. Lewis Hamilton – 146 points

7. Lando Norris – 76 points

8. Esteban Ocon – 58 points

9. Valtteri Bottas – 46 points

10. Fernando Alonso – 41 points

11. Kevin Magnussen – 22 points

12. Daniel Ricciardo -19 points

13. Pierre Gasly – 16 points

14. Sebastian Vettel – 16 points

15. Mick Schumacher – 12 points

16. Yuki Tsunoda – 11 points

17. Guanyu Zhou – 5 points

18. Lance Stroll – 4 points

19. Alex Albon – 3 points

20. Nicholas Latifi – 0 points

21. Nico Hulkenberg – 0 points

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What is the competition schedule?

  • Free Exercise 3: afternoon
  • Qualifying: 3:00 PM
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Friday times

Last times after the second practice:

1 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1 min 45.507 sec, 2 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:46.369, 3 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:46.589, 4 Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:46.635, 5 Carlos Sainz Jr (Spa) Ferrari 1:46.649, 6 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:46.893, 7 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:46.975, 8 George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:47.042, 9 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:47.255, 10 Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:47.34.

11 Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:47.520, 12 Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:47.617, 13 Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:47.658, 14 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:47.782, 15 Sebastian Vettel (D) Aston Martin 1:47.867, 16 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:47.944, 17 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:48.208, 18 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:48.419, 19 Nicholas Latifi ( Can) Williams 1:48.612, 20 Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haas F1 1:49.941.

Max Verstappen in the Red Bull garage

(TSWT via Getty Images)

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Friday times

Last times after the first training:

1 Carlos Sainz Jr (Spa) Ferrari 1 min 46.538secs, 2 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:46.607, 3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:46.755, 4 George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:47.396, 5 Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:47.437, 6 Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:47.835, 7 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:48.081, 8 Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:48.310, 9 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:48.420, 10 Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:48.474.

11 Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:48.485, 12 Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:48.672, 13 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:49.470, 14 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:49.664, 15 Sebastian Vettel ( Ger) Aston Martin 1:49.813, 16 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:50.315, 17 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:50.982, 18 Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haas F1 1:51.259, 19 Liam Lawson (Nzl) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:52.065, 20 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing No time set.

Carlos Sainz topped Friday morning times

(Getty images)

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