The Friday in F1 Dutch GP upon return from summer break was hectic where Daniel Ricciardo got injured and Lando Norris topped the timesheets.
It was not any usual Friday in F1 Dutch GP with a lot happening whether in terms of crashes and or the standings. While Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had the pace in FP1, McLaren’s Lando Norris edged him out in FP2 to show some resistence.
Verstappen was not happy with the balance in FP2 and seems confident of having the pace to topple his rivals with teammate Sergio Perez also in the mix. The Mexican, though, will have his task cut out considering the cars around him being close too.
One of them is Norris who was pleased to continue with the form he showed before the F1 summer break. While he knows beating Verstappen will be tough, he is more concerned about the cars around him where even the likes of Williams and AlphaTauri are up there.
The Top 10 in FP2 saw eight different teams where only Ferrari and Haas missed out. The Mercedes F1 pair were satisfied too especially Lewis Hamilton who showed better pace than George Russell, where the latter had to dig deep to set a good lap time.
Over at Aston Martin, Fernando Alonso seemed satisfied with their updates even though he didn’t set the timesheets on fire. Teammate Lance Stroll was forced to miss FP1 due to power unit issue but did well in FP2 with the running after the issue was fixed.
The surprise in the pack was Williams’ Alexander Albon who once again showed his pace and this time he was at the front of the pack, earning him third place in FP2. While they showed pace, Ferrari seemed off outside the Top 10.
Verstappen: “Pretty good. Tried some things on the car. I think FP2 was a little bit more difficult. But I think overall FP2 was really difficult to get a clean lap, there were a lot of cars always around. It was fine, but we have a few things that we want to improve, but even on the long runs the car was handling quite well, so overall I think it was quite a good day. It’s just particular corners I was not really happy with the balance, so it’s all about trying to sort that out a little bit more. Regarding the track, there is always a bit of sand around, but I was, I think, too close to the car ahead, but I still wanted to see if I could break later. In terms of the off, soon as you have the oversteer you don’t want to spin or whatever, so you just go across the gravel trap, but it was all under control. Overall, I think the car has a lot of potential to again have a good day tomorrow. Just need to fine tune a few things and I’m pretty confident that we can be ahead.”
Norris: “It’s nice to be back, good to be back in the car. [I was] feeling a little bit rusty, I will say – a few laps and you’re back in it. But a good day for us. We sacrificed quite a bit of FP1 to do a lot of aero running so we were a little bit behind on kind of learning and trying and testing some things, but valuable stuff for the future. I think to end up how we did today was encouraging and makes us look forward to tomorrow. 100%. It’s close. I think it’s going to be very close come tomorrow. It’s a short track, one minute 12 [lap times], one minute 11, probably one minute 10s or something tomorrow. It’s going to be very tight between many people… You have the Williams there, Alpine are there, AlphaTauris are there, so it’s just going to be a scrap, a lot of people fighting for the top spot. It’s going to make it easy to do both things, not easy to get to the top but easy to get knocked out early on, and reward you well. If you do a good job you can get all the way to a good [spot] in Q3. It’s going to be tough. We can stay there, just no mistakes.”
Hamilton: “That was a great day for me. I woke up this morning so excited to get back in the car, and from the first lap it felt like we had a good starting point to work from. The first practice session was generally good; we made some changes for FP2, and I’m not sure if we progressed or not from them, so we will deep dive tonight to investigate. Overall, the car is feeling more competitive here, so we want to hold onto that and see if we can extract more for tomorrow.”
Albon: “Very good. But we’ve seen it before. We obviously don’t know what everyone else is doing. Honestly, I have to say the car felt good. From the moment we touched down in FP1, the car felt good. The long run in FP1 felt okay, felt strong, FP2 maybe less so. It’s a bit surprising. I’m sure everyone is going to make a bigger step tomorrow. Obviously, we will try and hold on and keep this position, but we’ll see. For sure people are most likely running heavier. But you look at it anyway it’s still a good day, even if we are lighter or whatever we are. We are still doing good pace. It’s going to be very tight, it’s always tight around here. I mean I’m not that pessimistic, I’m actually quite optimistic. In terms of traffic, it’s tough. It is tough. It’s always been a problem. These tyres need to rest, and when you rest them there is a lot of traffic. So, it keeps you on your toes, even on your in laps, on your cool down laps they keep you on your toes.”
Alonso: The upgrades to the AMR23 feel good, although we didn’t complete the programme that we were hoping to – there were a couple of red flags. There was nothing too dramatic on my side and we got good information on Friday, but we still need to analyse everything and put everything together for tomorrow.
Leclerc: “It was a difficult day for us overall. The field seems to be very tight here and there is still quite a lot of pace to be gained, especially on the qualifying runs. We will work hard on that overnight. The weather forecast for tomorrow predicts rain, so that’s something we will have to adapt to.”
The Top 10 in FP1 also featured the likes of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, who all felt good in the cockpit. Even though they know that they are in a mix of strong F1 cars, they feel good to be around Q3 mark.
Tsunoda’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo though won’t be part of it after injuring his left hand where his metacarpal broke after his FP2 incident. The Australian was caught out by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri’s crash at Turn 3 and he bumped into the barrier.
Ricciardo was hospitalised as he noted that he couldn’t take his hands off the wheel on time which caused the injury. Piastri, meanwhile, admitted of going in too hot and in order to turn away aggressively, he bottled it up and hit the barrier.
There was a crash for Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg too in FP1 where the wind and balance caught him out to beach himself in the gravel. The first session also had Ferrari’s Robert Shwartzman getting a FP1 gig which went smoothly, even though he had snappy moments.
Gasly: “It feels great to be back in the car after the summer break and back at this amazing track with its unique atmosphere. It’s been fun to put in lots of strong laps and get back in the swing of driving. To finish sixth in Free Practice 2 is very positive for us and means we’ve had a great start to the weekend. We have some work to do on some finer details as the whole field is extremely tight. Tomorrow, every hundredth of a second will make a big difference in Qualifying. We made a good step between Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 and now we need to find a bit more for tomorrow.”
Piastri: “I just went in a little bit hot, tried to turn in a bit aggressively and unfortunately found the wall, so it’s a shame. It’s just unfortunate to give the guys a massive load of work for the night, but [I’ll] try and bounce back tomorrow and have a good day. I guess [a crash] was going to happen at some stage. Of course, you never want it to, but yeah, just pushing a little bit too hard and around here, especially in that corner, you pay a big consequence if you overdo it a little bit. [I’ll] try not to do it again and see what we can do with the rest of the weekend. It’s clearly been a good day on Lando’s side, it’s been a quick FP2 for him and I think even before that, I was feeling quite good with the car. The pace looked quite reasonable on the hard tyre. I think we can go into tomorrow pretty confident. Obviously, I’ve got a few less laps under my belt right now, and I probably have a bit to learn for tomorrow, but it’s encouraging that the car is looking quick, definitely.”
Bottas: “It’s a nice feeling to be back on track, especially on such a challenging and intense track. This is a tight circuit, with not much space and lots of sand off-line, which could make it interesting in qualifying, when you need to give others a bit of space. It was important to hit the ground running, and the first feeling with the car isn’t bad: we know that, on such a short track, margins will be small but I think we’re there or thereabout, with top-ten speed. There’s still work to do, of course: not just on qualifying trim but also in terms of race pace. We know we need to execute our job to perfection to maximise our qualifying position, but we can be in the mix for a good result.”
Hulkenberg: “FP2 was smooth, no real problems. The main problem is not having enough pace, and we’re looking for pace and balance, and finding more performance really. [In FP1] there wasn’t much damage at all, it wasn’t a big thing that I tried – it was just a little too much speed, a little bit of wind in that situation, the brake balance was a little bit too much rearwards, and those combined mean you can have an off. This is an old school track with gravel, so I didn’t do too much damage but lost some track time.”
Ricciardo: “I was very excited to be back after the break. The day was going pretty well. We made some changes for FP2 and the few laps I did on the hard tyre before the crash felt good; we were building up and improving. At that time, we were pretty competitive, and I was feeling positive. I remember coming into Turn 3. I had already gotten into the corner and then saw Piastri, so it was either hit him or the wall. When I hit the wall, I didn’t have enough time to take my hands off the steering wheel, so the wheel came and hit my hand. It’s really unfortunate and frustrating, but I’ll try to recover as quickly as I can. Obviously, I’d love to get back soon, but I also want to ensure we do things the right way, so I come back strong and competitive. I wish the team well, and I’m sorry for the change in plans again. It’s a chance for Liam to have a go, and I wish him and the team a strong weekend.”
Shwartzman: “Our focus for FP1 was to test some aero balance solutions. I’m happy with how I managed to work with the car, because everyone expected it to be challenging. I knew from the beginning that it wasn’t a performance run and the team briefed me about the programme and what to expect in advance. I did most of the laps in race mode to see how the car performs lap by lap. We also completed a practice start, which was quite good. It has been a really good experience and the track is super challenging. I have never driven here with the current configuration and the banking. It was also my first experience in the SF-23. I found it interesting and fun. It was a tough session, but we completed it well and collected some data. The car felt quite similar to the way it does in the simulator. It is important for us to understand that relationship, in order to improve the current car and work on next year’s one. I’d like to thank Scuderia Ferrari again for the opportunity and I’m looking forward to my next outing later this season.”
Here’s news on Daniel Ricciardo and Liam Lawson
Here’s how Dutch GP FP1 panned out
Here’s how Dutch GP FP2 panned out