Lewis Hamilton narrowly avoids crash in wet conditions at Belgian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton's Belgian Grand Prix weekend almost got off to a torrid start as he had to take fast evasive action to avoid smashing into the back of another car.
The first session back after F1's summer break was a wet one – a sign of things to come at Spa-Francorchamps over the course of the weekend.
And it almost ended in disaster for the seven-time world champion, whose quick braking was the only thing that stopped him going into the back of Nicholas Latifi at high speed on Friday.
Hamilton was hunting down the best time set by team-mate Valtteri Bottas, and moved to overtake the Canadian just before the final chicane of his flying lap.
The Williams man seemed entirely oblivious to the fact the Brit was there, though, and moved to his left to take the corner – right in front of Hamilton who was travelling at a much higher speed.
Fortunately for both, the Mercedes ace was able to stop in time to prevent a nasty crash.
It did mean, though, that Bottas was able to post a much faster time than his partner, a feat the Finn repeated in the second session of the day.
While Hamilton was able to escape Friday's sessions unscathed, other drivers were not so lucky.
Veteran racer Kimi Raikkonen inexplicably crashed into the pit lane wall and didn't return to FP1 despite being able to drive away.
That came after the Alfa Romeo man's spin at La Source, shortly before AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda repeated the trick. Esteban Ocon also briefly lost control, but the Alpine driver was able to continue.
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc had a lucky escape when he was caught out by the new gravel trap at Bruxelles, but managed impressively to keep his car under control to get back onto the track instead of careering into the wall.
He wasn't so luck in FP2, though, as he lost control on the exit of Turn 6 and ended up hitting the wall at the following corner to force the first red flag of the session.
Despite going fastest in that second session, it was Hamilton's title rival Max Verstappen who may well have been the biggest loser of Friday practice.
He put his Red Bull into a wall at Turn 7 which caused the second red flag and premature end to the session, leaving his engineers with a lot of work to do to get the car ready for qualifying at 2pm on Saturday.
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