Lewis Hamilton was fastest in a hugely disrupted session going nine-hundredths of a second faster than title rival Max Verstappen in the first practice session ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix. The hour-long session was suspended for thirty-five minutes when Sebastian Vettel stopped on track because of ERS failure.
Hamilton set his fastest time at the end of the session on soft tyres, but Verstappen couldn’t find enough to take the top spot. This weekend the title fight will be back on track following last Sunday’s washout at Spa.
Mercedes expecting stronger challenges from Red Bull at the low-speed high downforce Zandvoort, as it returns to the circuit for the first time since 1985.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was third after going two-hundredths of a second faster than his teammate Charles Leclerc, with the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas a further tenth behind in fourth.
The problems for Vettel began around the twenty-minute mark when his engine developed an issue, at the start of his flying lap his engine blew up just before Tarzan forcing him to stop before the first corner. The session being red-flagged for half an hour before resuming.
In what F1 didn’t need a board line farcical sequence of events, the full explanation for which is not yet available. Vettel grabbed a fire extinguisher from the marshals and put out the small fire in the engine bay himself, presumably because he could see the car was still electrically live and could not be touched.
Valtteri Bottas was fifth fastest going four tenths faster than Fernando Alonso, with the two-time champion going eight hundredths faster than his teammate Esteban Ocon. Although the disrupted session makes it difficult to predict the midfield battle this weekend.
Drivers were needing and looking forward to learning the historic and challenging Zandvoort circuit. However, they did not get anywhere near as much experience of the unique layout – featuring two heavily banked corners – as they would have wanted.
Much of the session became about learning the track and adapting for FP2. Antonio Giovinazzi putting his Alfa Romeo eight ahead of Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly. Meanwhile, Gasly’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda failed to set a time after making a mistake before the red flag.
McLaren were another team to lose out because of the red flag, Lando Norris finishing the session down in eleventh and a second off the pace. However he did set the fastest time before the red flag, but it is likely that he lost out in the scramble for laps in the closing moments of the session.
Nicolas Latifi was twelfth fastest for Williams going almost a tenth and a half ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, with the second McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo fourteen. George Russell finishing the session fifteenth, although the disrupted session means there is likely more to come from Williams.
Sergio Perez was another to lose out or not show what he can manage in the Red Bull, finishing the session sixteenth a second and eight tenths off the pace. The two Haas’s of Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher were seventeenth and eighteenth.