Lewis Hamilton lost most of second practice at the Dutch GP after a power issue stopped his Mercedes on track, as Charles Leclerc led a surprise one-two for Ferrari.
Although many of the grid’s drivers raced at the twisty and narrow Dutch seaside venue in junior formula, the track has been significantly reprofiled for its F1 return – notably banked corners of around 19 degrees constructed at Turns 3 and 14.
With the world champion sidelined for the remainder of the hour, Mercedes’ workload for afternoon practice therefore rested with Valtteri Bottas in the sister car. The Finn completed 33 laps in the fourth-fastest time.
That put Mercedes ahead of Red Bull’s Verstappen, but what would have been the Dutchman’s best soft-tyre lap was compromised by a second red flag of the session when Nikita Mazepin spun his Haas into the gravel.
Both of the opening day’s sessions were compromised by red flags. Sebastian Vettel’s Mercedes-engined Aston Martin had already stopped on track in Practice One before the delays of the afternoon.
The stop-start narrative meant it was even more difficult than normal on a Friday to piece together a clear competitive picture, although Ferrari undoubtedly showed promise on the kind of track that should suit their package.
Leclerc set the day’s best time of 1:10.902, which was a tenth ahead of team-mate Sainz. Esteban Ocon was close behind in third for Alpine with Bottas and Verstappen rounding out the top five.
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“The Ferrari looked hooked up around there,” said Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok, who watched the session from trackside
“But the big story has to be Lewis. On a day and at a track where we know they just have to do laps, he hasn’t had that chance.”
Fernando Alonso made it two Alpines in the top six ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and McLaren’s Lando Norris. Hamilton’s one flying lap of the session was only good enough for 11th place.