Zandvoort, FP1: Hamilton tops opening practice as Vettel hits trouble

Verstappen 2nd, Sainz 3rd


By Olivier Ferret

3 September 2021 - 12:33
Zandvoort, FP1: Hamilton tops (...)

FIA Formula One World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton went quickest in an opening practice session for the Dutch Grand Prix that was heavily disrupted by suspected engine failure for Sebastian Vettel. Local hero Max Verstappen took second place on the timesheet ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc established an early lead with a hard-tyre time of 1:17.919 but he was swiftly usurped as drivers began to get to grips with the unfamiliar circuit, which is returning to the schedule for the first time since 1985.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly lowered the benchmark to 1:15.301 before McLaren’s Lando Norris stole P1 with a lap of 1:13.751. Verstappen then delighted the packed grandstands by taking top spot with a hard-tyre lap of 1:13.045. He was briefly dislodged by Mercedes’ Valterri Bottas but returned to P1 with the a lap of 1:12.850. Norris then restaked his claim to supremacy thanks to a lap of 1:12.679 just before Vettel brought running to a halt when his Aston Martin expired at the pit exit with a suspected power unit failure.

The German driver has reported a problem on his installation laps and had returned to the pits for checks. But when he emerged again he again hit trouble on his first timed lap and pulled over at the pit exit.

Vettel quickly climbed out of his car and fetched a fire extinguisher but after struggling to activate it he sought help from a track marshal who also appeared to have difficulty with the equipment. Eventually the extinguishers were engaged but Vettel’s car seeming to be in an electrically unsafe state there was a long delay as it was made safe.

The delay meant that when the green flags were shown there were just six minutes left in the session.

Leclerc posted a lap of 1:12.288 to take top spot but he was quickly ousted by Sainz and Bottas. Hamilton then powered past all of his rivals with a lap of 1:11.500. Verstappen got closest to the Briton with a lap of 1:11.597, 0.097s off Hamilton’s best time. slower than his title rival – the Dutch driver having to dodge traffic at several points after setting what was at that stage the fastest time in the first sector.

Sainz took third 0.101s behind Hamilton with Leclerc fourth ahead of Bottas and the Alpine cars of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon. Antonio Giovinazzi was eighth ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and the final top-10 place went to Gasly.

There was trouble for the Frenchman’s AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda. however.

The Japanese driver completed just three laps in the opening phase of the championship after he spun getting at Turn 10. He returned to the pit lane but took no further part int hr session.

01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 1:11.500 17
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:11.597 18
03 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 1:11.601 19
04 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 1:11.623 18
05 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 1:11.738 18
06 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 1:12.158 18
07 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A521 1:12.231 17
08 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:12.359 18
09 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:12.431 18
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:12.515 19
11 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:12.679 18
12 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:12.907 16
13 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:13.053 20
14 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:13.081 18
15 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:13.181 15
16 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:13.328 18
17 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:13.516 14
18 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:13.847 17
19 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:15.984 6
20 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 -:—.--- 3

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