Robert Shwartzman set the pace in practice for the Formula 2 round at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, leading Red Bull-Honda junior Yuki Tsunoda.
The 45-minute session was red-flagged almost as soon as it began, as HWA Racelab driver Giuliano Alesi crashed his car at the exit of pitlane while attempting to warm up his tyres.
When practice resumed with 36 minutes left on the clock, Mick Schumacher went to the top of the timesheets with a time of 1m59.171s, only for team-mate Shwartzman to displace him seconds later with a 1m58.874s flyer.
Shwartzman managed to go even quicker still with a 1m58.233s, while Carlin’s Tsunoda and Hitech’s Nikita Mazepin slotted into second and third, both two-tenths of a second down on the Prema driver.
Schumacher managed to improve on his previous time but still dropped to seventh, behind MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovich, the second Carlin of Jehan Daruvala and Campos driver Jack Aitken.
Amid light rain and a switch to long runs, the top times remained virtually unchallenged in the second half of the session. That meant reigning F3 champion Shwartzman topped a practice session for the first time in 2020, leading Carlin’s Tsunoda by 0.211s.
Mazepin finished just 0.011s behind in third, with Drugovich fourth quickest ahead of Daruvala.
Aitken finished 0.516s off the pace in sixth, while Schumacher and Luca Ghiotto were classified seventh and eight respectively.
The top 10 was completed by the Charouz of Louis Deletraz and championship leader Callum Ilott (Virtuosi).
Christian Lundgaard, third in the championship heading into the Spa round, languished down in 14th place, one place ahead of Guanyu Zhou.
Juri Vips finished 17th quickest on his F2 debut with DAMS with a time of 1m59.597s, 1.3s down on the quickest lap of the session set by Shwartzman.
Vips’ team-mate Dan Ticktum didn’t take part in practice after returning an inconclusive test for COVID-19, with DAMS confirming in a statement that he’s awaiting the results of a retest.
With Ticktum failing to take part in practice and Alesi unable to set a time after his early crash, Guilherme Samaia propped up the timesheets in 20th place in the second of the Campos cars.
Spa-Francorchamps F2 – practice results
|1||Robert Shwartzman||Prema Racing||1m58.233s|
|3||Nikita Mazepin||Hitech Grand Prix||0.232s|
|4||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||0.277s|
|6||Jack Aitken||Campos Racing||0.516s|
|7||Mick Schumacher||Prema Racing||0.615s|
|8||Luca Ghiotto||Hitech Grand Prix||0.712s|
|9||Louis Deletraz||Charouz Racing System||0.748s|
|12||Nobuharu Matsushita||MP Motorsport||0.849s|
|14||Christian Lundgaard||ART Grand Prix||1.135s|
|15||Marcus Armstrong||ART Grand Prix||1.196s|
|16||Pedro Piquet||Charouz Racing System||1.243s|
|19||Artem Markelov||BWT HWA RACELAB||1.762s|
|20||Guilherme Samaia||Campos Racing||4.349s|
|21||Giuliano Alesi||BWT HWA RACELAB||–|