Two Ferraris in front of everyone in the second free practice session of the Dutch GP on the splendid Zandvoort track, revised with numerous banking. Charles Leclerc was the fastest with a time of 1’10 “902 obtained on soft tires, followed just 154 thousandths by team mate Carlos Sainz.
After the cold shower at Spa-Francorchamps, the Scuderia triggers the cheering of the Cavallino fans with an unexpected and unpredictable performance, although the high-load Dutch track suits the traction characteristics of the SF21 and the power of the engine does not count as in Belgium.
In fairness it must be said that Lewis Hamilton, fastest in the morning, covered only three laps with the Mercedes, finishing 11th: the world champion approached the W12 for a problem with the power unit after the technicians told him via radio to switch off the engine immediately.
The Englishman followed his orders before exiting the black arrow, collaborating with the commissioners to make it safe: the red flag lasted only about ten minutes. It was the second problem with a power unit of the Star, after the trouble with the hybrid that had stopped Sebastian Vettel with the Aston Marin in the morning. That the engines are affected by the banking that Jarno Zaffelli invented with 5G lateral acceleration peaks?
The fact is that the epta champion lost the whole session and the long run data was collected only by Valtteri Bottas who was not particularly brilliant in the flying lap, but seemed the only one able to keep up with the race pace that Max Verstappen showed with medium tires.
The home idol did not find a clean lap on the red tires (he had to abort the second attempt due to Nikita Mazepin causing the second red of the session at half an hour: the Russian driver lost the Haas at turn 11 and ended up in the escape route with the gravel where it inevitably got silted up). In the first attempt, however, he used a train of used soft and could not aspire to the top.
Not bad because Max is aware of the potential he has in his hands and it is not surprising that he finished fifth behind Esteban Ocon’s Reds and the surprising Alpine and the Finn’s Mercedes.
The Frenchman is experiencing a very positive moment: the Enstone team provided him with a very balanced A521 from the very first laps: Esteban was the first to seize the time, finishing third at 18 thousandths behind Sainz’s Ferrari who was able to count on a track with slightly more grip.
Ocon made the difference on Fernando Alonso: the Spaniard defended himself with his claws, settling in a good sixth place ahead of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and Lando Norris’ McLaren.
In the afternoon Antonio Giovinazzi confirmed himself in the top 10 with Alfa Romeo. The Italian is playing Zandvoort perfectly, while Kimi Raikkonen is relegated only to 16th place: the announcement of the retirement seems to have dumped Iceman …
Sebastian Vettel is tenth with Aston Martin: the German practically lost the first session due to a problem with the Mercedes hybrid and, after having reassembled engine 2 to continue the weekend, he climbed to the fifth row, showing an excellent adaptation to the track, while the English brand is negotiating its contract renewal.
Sergio Perez continues to disappoint that the layout of Zandvoort has not digested him at all: the Mexican is closely followed by the AlphaTauri rookie. The Japanese is just over a tenth of the winner in Baku. Lance Stroll is 12th ahead of the inconclusive Daniel Ricciardo with McLaren.
We have already said about Raikkonen pursued by Mick Schumacher with Haas: the German is satisfied to have put the two Williams and teammate Nikita Mazepin behind him. Nicholas Latifi is 18th with the FW43B doing better than George Russell, last but with problems to solve.