Verstappen is warming up for the Vettel record. And Zandvoort will once again become a Formula 1 party zone. But her darling has to admit defeat once in training. That doesn’t have to mean much.
Full ranks, but the Formula 1 national hero just beaten: The party weekend in the dunes of Zandvoort started with a small flaw for Max Verstappen.
The pole setter and winner of the two editions of the Dutch Grand Prix after returning to the 2021 racing calendar only finished second in the second free practice session after setting the best time in the first session.
Verstappen was missing 23 thousandths of a second on Lando Norris in the warm-up and voting program to set Sebastian Vettel’s ten-year-old winning streak record. That doesn’t have to mean much, but at least in the afternoon it became apparent that things could get tight. The top ten were within a good half second.
Hulkenberg gets stuck in the gravel
If Verstappen wins his home race for the third time in a row this Sunday (3 p.m. / Sky), he sets Vettel’s record with nine Grand Prix victories from the 2013 season. A week later, Verstappen could become the sole record man in Monza. But before freestyle comes duty, even for the superior 45-time Grand Prix winner. And during the first practice laps after the summer break, some of his colleagues experienced that things can get tricky on the course on the North Sea.
In the first free practice Nico Hülkenberg got it. A day after the announcement of the new contract with Haas for the coming year, he drove his car off the track in one of the banked curves and stopped in the gravel. Continuation impossible. In the second one-hour section, Oscar Piastri in the McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo in the Alpha Tauri ran into the barriers almost at the same point one after the other. Both cars also had to be recovered by the crane.
Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin was second in the early afternoon, the 42-year-old Spaniard was 0.278 seconds behind Verstappen. Third was record world champion Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes ahead of Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez. In the second training session in the afternoon, Verstappen could no longer get past Norris on the tableau, he unwound his program. Third was Alexander Albon in the Williams ahead of Hamilton. Hülkenberg was unscathed this time, but did not get past 18th place.
The second half of the season begins with the Dutch Grand Prix this Sunday (3 p.m. / Sky). After twelve grand prix before the summer break, there are still ten to go. Verstappen leads the standings with 125 points ahead of Pérez and is well on the way to his third world title in a row.
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