Max Verstappen leads second practice at Spa; Daniel Ricciardo 2nd

F1 Spa practice
Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday in the second practice session for the F1 Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa circuit

Verstappen was 0.048 seconds ahead of Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo and 0.096 ahead of six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver has won four of the first six races and leads the championship by 37 points over second-place Verstappen.

With about 20 minutes left, Ricciardo parked his Renault on the side after a loss of hydraulic pressure.

The session briefly was held up after debris fell onto the track at Turn 1, with race stewards rushing over to remove a couple of loose advertising hoardings.

Conditions were overcast all day with light rain falling in the afternoon on the 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) track nestled in the Ardennes forest.

It was another miserable day for struggling Ferrari, with Charles Leclerc 15th and four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel in 17th.

In the first practice, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas led by 0.069 seconds over Hamilton.

Bottas had a late puncture to his left-front tire in that session because of debris (and not the tire degradation issues that caused a puncture near the end of the British GP on Aug. 2).

There will be a third and final practice Saturday ahead of qualifying in the afternoon.

The track was mostly empty as all F1 races have been held without fans this season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Last year more than 250,000 fans – including swarms of orange-clad Dutch fans supporting Verstappen- crammed onto campsites with smells from impromptu barbecues and fast-food stalls filling the air.

But some fans might be coming back next month in Italy. Tuscany region president Enrico Rossi said Friday that local health authorities have approved 3,000 fans for the Tuscan Grand Prix on Sept. 13.

The circuit has three big stands that can hold 1,000 people each in accordance with national rules on public events.

Fans will have their temperature taken upon arrival and wear masks if it is approved at government level on Saturday.

There will be a smattering of spectators at the Italian GP in Monza a week earlier, too, with 250 health workers invited to attend in recognition of their efforts during the pandemic.