2021 Dutch Grand Prix – FP1&FP2 report: Lewis loses power as Max struggles at home
Formula One returns to Zandvoort for the first time since 1985. With the banked corners and rolling hills, it was going to be a great spectacle to watch.
Verstappen fans were out in force for his first ever home Grand Prix and the stands were packed full of people.
But let’s get straight into the Friday action.
Formula One cars emerged onto the Zandvoort track for the first time in 36 years and it was Yuki Tsunoda who was the first to be caught out on the new track. He spun his car round only 2 minutes into the session. He is the only driver not to race on this track in any category so this was the last thing he needed.
But things were even worse for Sebastian Vettel who had an engine failure only 15 minutes into the session and brought out the red flag.
Vettel was straight out of the car and rushed to get the fire extinguisher. Fireman Seb was on hand to put his car out.
The red flag last for just over 35 minutes as marshalled worried the car was still live and needed Aston Martin mechanics to make sure that it was all okay to be recovered.
This left only seven minutes for drivers to get any running in and rivers were all quick to get out on track.
Traffic was an issue coming into the final corner which Lando Norris found out the hard way. He looked to pass Ocon to start a flying lap, however, Ocon was looking at a Red Bull on his right and was looking to get out of the way of them. Norris went of Ocon’s left and three don’t go into one and Norris was pushed slightly onto the grass.
But once the dust had settled and the drivers got their runs completed, it was Lewis Hamilton who topped the timing sheets. Verstappen was second, less than a tenth of a second behind his title rival.
Both Ferrari’s were only a tenth off Lewis too with Sainz and Leclerc in 3rd and 4th respectively.
The start of second practice was mysteriously delayed by five minutes with no reason given by the stewards.
The drivers were eager to get out as soon as possible, given the lack of running they got in the morning session.
It looked like the afternoon session was looking to imitate the morning session as Lewis Hamilton this time was plagued with engine trouble.
The red flag this time did not last and drivers were back on track in no time. However, for Hamilton, this would be the end of his session.
Bottas was now Mercedes’ guinea pig and they sent him out on a set of soft tyres to get some quick runs in so the team had some data with no Lewis out on track.
The red flag helped Sebastian Vettel as he returned to the track not long after the green flag was waved.
Many of the drivers were settling into their quali and long runs, but it came to a halt once again when Nikita Mazepin went too hot into turn 11 and beached his car into the gravel.
Max Verstappen was getting very frustrated as he was still yet to set a competitive lap time. When the track went green again, he was straight out but could only go fifth fastest.
It was Ferrari who has both of their cars at the top of the timing sheets. Esteban Ocon put his alpine in 3rd place. Bottas could only get 4th, but he was ahead of Max Verstappen.
Ferrari look like contenders
Ferrari were quick in both sessions and looked to be taking the fight to Red Bull and Mercedes.
They currently sit only a few points behind McLaren in the constructors championships and looked comfortably faster than McLaren in both session.
Zandvoort seemed like a track that would be tough for Ferrari, given the lack of slow speed corners. The results of the practice sessions looked to mimic that of the Hungarian Grand Prix, a track that Ferrari looked quick at and could have got a better result if not for incidents in Qualifying and the race.
Qualifying tomorrow is going to be very important. With the lack of overtaking opportunities, getting as far up on the grid could yield a lot of points.
Ferrari will be hoping that they carry this momentum into the rest of the weekend.