Mercedes Gatecrash Verstappen’s Dutch Grand Prix Party

Dutch driver Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing gets into the car during the first free practice session ahead of the Dutch F1 Grand Prix in the pits of the Zandvoort circuit on September 2, 2022. — AFP pic

Friday, September 02, 2022 22:08 MYT

Zandvoort, 2 September — George Russell beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton to see Mercedes come back 1-2 in today’s opening practice for this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix.

A raucous home crowd was disappointed as local hero and world champion Max Verstappen watched from the pits after his Red Bull car suffered an early gearbox failure.

The 24-year-old Russell set a best lap of 1:12.455, beating seven-time champion Hamilton by 0.2s on a dry day in the seaside dunes.

Carlos Sainz was third for Ferrari behind Lando Norris and McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Charles Leclerc finished sixth in his second Ferrari.

Sergio Perez was the second bull in seventh, ahead of two Alpines, two-time world champions Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, while Williams’ Alex Albon was tenth.

On a warm, dry day, Alonso set the fastest lap early on, but was passed by Norris ahead of Verstappen, with Ricciardo topping the timing screen.

In front of a packed home crowd of ‘Orange Army’ fans, Verstappen on the hard tires clocked 1:14.714. This was a record for him half a second faster than the rest before being stopped with a gearbox issue after Turn 3. .

This brought up a red flag and the session was stopped for nine minutes to retrieve the Dutchman’s car and return it to the pits.

After the roar that welcomed his appearance, there was near silence as his Red Bull recovered before Alonso resumed action again, with Norris topping the time on the soft tyres.

Sainz then showed Ferrari keen to demonstrate their pace with a lap of 1:12.845 half an hour before Mercedes joined the fray. — AFP Mercedes Gatecrash Verstappen’s Dutch Grand Prix Party

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