Ferrari Dominate Afternoon F1 Practice as Hamilton Suffers Massive Setback at Zandvoort

Published 09/03/2021, 10:05 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Dutch Grand Prix – Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Netherlands – September 3, 2021 Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in action during practice REUTERS/Benoit Tessier


After a strong session from Mercedes in FP1, it was the Ferrari F1 duo who stole the show over the second practice session at the Dutch GP. While Charles Leclerc topped the session, his teammate, Carlos Sainz, held on to P2, gifting the Scuderia their first 1-2 in a while.

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Contrastingly, Hamilton retired minutes into the session, potentially losing a huge chunk of running compared to his title rival, Max Verstappen, who finished in P5.

Formula One F1 – Dutch Grand Prix – Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Netherlands – September 3, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during practice REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

Valtteri Bottas, however, wasn’t far off, as the Finn constantly chipped in good enough lap times to hint that a strong fight with Red Bull is in the offing.

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How the Dutch GP session unfolded

For the third straight session since the main race at Spa, F1 witnessed an interruption, with the latest happening in FP2. For unknown reasons, the race control delayed the session by 5 minutes. Hence, moments before the lights went green, cars queued up at the end of the pit lane, ready to hit the track.

Formula One F1 – Dutch Grand Prix – Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Netherlands – September 3, 2021 Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in action during practice REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

However, the first driver to bring out the red flag turned out to be Hamilton, as the Briton’s Mercedes suffered an issue with the power unit. Luckily, the retirement wasn’t as complicated as Vettel’s in FP1; the session restarted in less than 5 minutes.

Drivers including Seb joined the track, and it was Bottas provisionally leading the session, with Verstappen in P2, but not far off. Ocon delivered an impressive lap to claim P3 ahead of Leclerc. Moments later, on a new set of soft tires, the Frenchman clocked the fastest lap of the session with a 1:11:074.

Qualifying F1 runs: who was the fastest?

Just as the drivers switched to the soft tires for qualifying runs, Mazepin ended up beaching his car in the gravel around turn 11, bringing out the second red flag of the session. After the session officially restarted, it was quite surprising to see Ocon continuing to lead the session.

Formula One F1 – Dutch Grand Prix – Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Netherlands – September 3, 2021 Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. in action during practice REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

Neither Bottas nor Verstappen was able to post good enough laps to beat the one-time Grand Prix winner. However, in the end, it was Leclerc, who managed to leap past the Alpine to go P1, posting a 1:10:902. Seconds later, Sainz secured P2, making it a Ferrari 1-2.

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Bottas and Verstappen fell further down to P4 and P5, with Alonso and Gasly closing out the top 7.

Formula One F1 – Dutch Grand Prix – Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Netherlands – September 3, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during practice REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

Overall, there end the Friday’s practice runs. And the cramped and tricky Zandvoort has hinted at potential crashes and a lot of traffic through every session. Hence, how are these two factors going to play out over the upcoming actions on Saturday and Sunday?

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Rohit Kumar

1165 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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