70,000 Dutch fans show up to support home hero Max Verstappen, 2nd in the morning and 5th in the afternoon
By Olivia Kairu
A roaring sea of orange made up of 70,000 Dutch fans all in support of Max Verstappen lit up the grandstands of Zandvoort this Friday during both practice sessions.
Only three points separate the home hero from seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who led the FP1 with a 1.11s500 lap time with just seven minutes to spare to disappoint locals. Charles Leclerc topped a Ferrari 1-2 in the afternoon session with a 1.10s902 lap time.
Clear skies opened up to allow normal running, but both sessions came to a standstill caused by various mishaps.
Drivers were keen to get a lay of the land as soon as the lights turned green sending times darting on the timesheet early into the session without delay.
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Yuki Tsunoda spun at Turn 10 on the hard compound early into the first session while struggling to warm up his tyres. Soon after Esteban Ocon locked up at Turn 11 forcing him onto the escape road into Turn 12.
Pierre Gasly showed outstanding pace compared to his rookie AlphaTauri teammate staying within the top 10 in both sessions.
A stroke of bad luck fell affected Sebastian Vettel’s AMR21 just 15 minutes into the session. The four-time world champion reporting “engine failure” after the Canadian-owned team mechanics attempted to fix a suspected MGU-K problem.
The incident red-flagged the session for 35 minutes as the car was grounded and retrieved after fears of excess charge.
Lance Stroll, on the other hand, demonstrated strength on the track edging closer and closer within the top 10. The Canadian set fastest sector times throughout the session, giving hope to the misfortune that the outfit has endured since the season start. He finished 9th in the FP1 and 14th in the FP2.
Ferrari looking strong, Verstappen too
Ferrari always looked like a strong contender for the weekend due to the low-speed nature of the circuit and the high downforce levels required.
This was evident with both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr’s performance in both sessions, from P3 and P4 respectively in FP1, and P1 and P2 in the FP2.
Crowd favourite Max Verstappen did not disappoint, coming 0.097s behind Hamilton in the FP1 after his flying lap was compromised by red flags.
The Briton fell victim to a loss of power in his Mercedes bringing out red flags of his own and roaring cheers throughout the grandstands early into the second practice session. Valtteri Bottas ran a smooth session improving from a previous P5 in FP1 to P4 in FP2 just two-tenths off the pace.
Verstappen carried cheers all through the circuit in his running, frequently darting to the top of the timesheet in both sessions. But the Dutch driver struggled to complete his flying laps on multiple occasions due to red flag interruptions and traffic all around the Zandvoort circuit.
Like many drivers who were still getting to grips with the revamped circuit, specifically the Turn 3 banking, Sergio Perez sauntered in the middle of the pack improving from a low P16 to a P12 in FP2.
Esteban Ocon carried the confidence of his Hungarian GP race win into the race weekend securing a top spot on the FP2 timesheet, a 1.11.074s lap that was soon bested by both Ferrari drivers. However, Ocon received a warning after being summoned to the steward’s office after causing Lando Norris to veer off the track.
Ocon Alpine’s teammate Fernando Alonso also showed a good performance, locking in P6 for both sessions and leading an equally competitive yet quiet Friday.
Kimi Raikkonen, the most experienced driver in Formula 1 history, enters the weekend having announced his departure from the sport upon the season’s end. The 2007 Championship winning driver was overshadowed by his Italian teammate who shuffled between P8 and P9 throughout the session.
After earning a first career podium at Spa-Francorchamps, George Russell carried saw his Williams in P15 in the FP1 and at the bottom of the pack in the FP2. He was also outshone by Canadian teammate Nicholas Latifi, who frequented the middle of the timesheet landing P12 in FP1 and P18 in FP2.
Nikita Mazepin went off the car at Turn 11 in the FP1 and caused a brief red flag when hurtling into the gravel. The Haas duo headed by Mick Schumacher in P17 split both Williams drivers in the second practice session with Mazepin in P19.
The Dutch Grand Prix at the Zandvoort circuit is set for Sunday at 9 AM EST, 6 AM Pacific Time. The Qualifying session on Saturday is also set for the same time.
See the full FP1 results:
See the full FP2 results: