The Friday in F1 Dutch GP saw loads of red flag situation, even though the drivers did enjoy the Zandvoort circuit and the banking.
It was quite the Friday in F1 Dutch GP with red flags ruling the day, especially in FP1 which was all but washed out due to a lengthy red flag for Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel’s MGU-K issue. The drivers got about 20 minutes of running from the 60 they had.
It was Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton heading the way from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, but both of them were not too confident about their pace, especially the former who missed FP2 too after a power unit trouble. He caused one of the two red flags of the session.
The other one was by Haas’ Nikita Mazepin. Hamilton, meanwhile, agreed that the loss of track time will eventually hurt. His teammate Valtteri Bottas got decent number of laps and clocked good times as well, to keep Mercedes in the hunt.
For Verstappen, he rued the red flag stoppages. While stating that he could have been faster more, he was cautious about Red Bull’s pace and also Mercedes’. His teammate Sergio Perez was a bit behind and noted that they will work on the right package.
Hamilton: “I don’t know yet about the issue. I was just in there, I just lost power, so they just told me to stop, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s more annoying that we only got like 20 minutes of running with that red flag in FP1, it naturally puts us on the back foot, but Valtteri looked like he had a good session so probably tomorrow we can try and fill in, make up for some of the time, hopefully.”
Verstappen: “I don’t think it looks very representative from our side in the short run. My lap was on a used set, and the lap I had to abort I think would have been good enough for first. Already after one lap, the tyres do drop off a bit. Nevertheless, we will work on a few things where we were not entirely happy in the short runs. But long run looks competitive, so that is always very important. But we also know that the starting position around here is very important. So we’ll have a look what we can do for the short run to make it even better… It’s never perfect so we’ll always try to look into details of what we can do better.”
The F1 mid-pack was a mixed one as usual, with Ferrari on top, where Charles Leclerc ended up quickest in FP2. Even Carlos Sainz looked solid along with the Alpine duo of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso. Once again AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was in the Top 10 mix, while McLaren’s Lando Norris was in there too, as he fights back from incidents.
Among their teammates, Yuki Tsunoda did not set a time after his spin. The team found an issue with the power unit, which forced him indoors, while Daniel Ricciardo reckoned they took the wrong step from FP1 to FP2. Aston Martin, meanwhile, had a mixed run after Vettel’s trouble, with the German and Lance Stroll both making into the Top 10 in one session at least.
Sainz: “We’re going to try for pole, definitely, but I wouldn’t expect a Monaco here. We’ve seen in the long runs that the Mercedes and the Red Bull are quicker but we want to be right behind them if we can, especially because we feel a bit closer than in previous weekends and we want to maximise every opportunity that they give us, if they do a mistake. I mean, we look to be on pace, definitely better than Spa. I think the Mercedes and the Red Bull are still quicker, especially when you look at the long runs.
“You could clearly see that that red flag there in the middle didn’t allow them to put the lap on the softs and maybe made us look quicker. Lando is also very quick in the McLaren, so I expect to have a good fight with the McLaren again and then unfortunately… Mercedes and Red Bull are still ahead, but maybe in this circuit we’re a bit closer to them than what we have been recently.”
Ocon: “I do feel that we can improve some stuff. But definitely the car felt very strong out there. It’s probably the closest to a perfect balance that we’ve had so far this year. I think the track, just how it is, with it being very high grip probably helps with our balance. It’s been a pleasure to drive, it’s good fun. The work we’ve done in the simulator has helped us in general to arrive and be ready with a good pre-event set-up. We keep tweaking once we arrived on the real track, but we definitely picked up things on the simulator that would have taken us some time to figure out here. So it’s a good job that we worked so hard in the sim and that the guys in the factory managed to put the sim so close to reality.”
Vettel: “I think overall it was a decent afternoon. We had some catching up to do and I had to get into the rhythm quick, but it helps that I’ve been here many years ago and they didn’t change too much of the track, which is good news. The bits they changed, I think they changed for the better; I think it’s very exciting with the banking. Not quite clear which line to take yet. We couldn’t complete a flying lap in FP1 – but I think it should be OK. I think we still have some bits that we can improve in the car.
“I feel I’m not yet quite there from a driving point of view. The car I think can be improved, so we should be able to make a step. Hopefully the others are not able to do that, and we’ll see where we are. In the afternoon, the red flag helped, the first one, because I wasn’t out yet… which wasn’t too bad as we were just in the box anyway. For us, the red flags didn’t affect us, but, I also caused it.”
Ricciardo: “This morning I was relatively comfortable, this afternoon not so. We tried some things on the car that, in hindsight, I don’t think were the right direction. But, that’s what free practice is for. It made FP2 a little more tricky, but we’ll go back and learn from that. I think we’ll still be in good shape, but we were just a little bit off in FP2. There are some quick cars out there, so we’ve got our work cut out for us, but it’s a fun track and I’m really enjoying it.”
Behind them, Alfa Romeo looked in a slightly better shape, with Antonio Giovinazzi making it into the Top 10 for both the F1 sessions, while teammate Kimi Raikkonen was thereabouts. On Haas’ side, Mick Schumacher conceded that he had more to learn, while Nikita Mazepin felt good until the spin. At the same time, both George Russell and Nicholas Latifi felt that Williams were not there yet with their car.
Here’s how F1 Dutch GP FP1 panned out
Here’s how F1 Dutch GP FP2 panned out