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What the teams said – Friday at the Dutch Grand Prix

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Pierre Gasly of Scuderia AlphaTauri and France during

Mercedes

Hamilton doesn’t often start the weekend strongly, with this the first time he has topped an FP1 session this season. But that proved to be the highlight of a difficult first day in Zandvoort, with an engine issue forcing him to stop out on track after just one timed lap on the medium tyre in the afternoon. That left the onus on Bottas to collect crucial data for the team, and the Finn did a decent job. He managed to get a flying lap on the softs in, although he did set that early before the track had ramped up, which explains why he is slightly down the order.

READ MORE: Limited Friday running ‘puts us on the back foot’ admits Hamilton after early FP2 failure at Zandvoort

Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:11.500, P1; FP2: 1:11.911, P11

"This track is epic. It brought back so many memories when I first got out there, from when I drove here before. I knew it was great when I was in Formula 3, but in a Formula One car it is just something else. It's a shame I couldn't complete more running, but the loss of power cut my FP2 short quite early on. I've got some catching up to do and we need to investigate the issue in more detail, but it's not the end of the world. The car wasn't feeling too bad, in the limited running I had, and Valtteri had a productive FP2, so we'll have plenty of learnings to take from that. It was amazing to see the crowd here today, there were so many people out there and the Dutch fans bring so much energy. I hope it's a great weekend for everyone."

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:11.738, P5; FP2: 1:11.132, P4

"Overall, it was a good day for me, and I enjoyed it out on track. It's an exciting track to drive, with all the banked corners and high-speed sections. It's got a nice flow and it's fairly easy to settle into a rhythm. I'm sure tomorrow in Qualifying will be even more fun. It was quite a disrupted day with a lot of red flags, but even so, I got quite a lot of laps in, particularly in FP2 where we did some proper running on both single lap and long runs. I'm sure we have plenty of data to go through. The margins look small, which is nice to see, so everything is possible."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"We've had a tricky day with red flags costing us a lot of running time in the first session and then Lewis had an issue with his car, so we had to stop on track. Everyone has struggled with a lack of running so there isn't masses of data to work with and many had low fuel runs that were compromised with traffic, so we have to expect many teams to move forward tomorrow. We're struggling a bit with Turn 2-3, we seem to be losing there on both low and high fuel but we've got a bit of time tonight to understand that. There are a few other places we can improve the balance but overall, it doesn't seem too far off. We have to recover a bit of running with Lewis but there is time to do that in the morning session."

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP stops on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 03, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Ferrari

After falling back down the order in Spa, this was a very quick return to form for the Scuderia. A very solid FP1 was followed by a blisteringly quick FP2, with Leclerc just pipping his team mate at the top of the standings. With Sainz admitting to a small mistake on his flying lap, it doesn’t look like there is much in it between the two drivers – but can they stay in front of the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes tomorrow? Ferrari do have two pole positions this year already, but a third here would be a turn up for the books.

Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:11.623, P4; FP2: 1:10.902, P1

"I think there is still quite a bit of potential for us to improve. It is looking good for now, but we shouldn’t get carried away because it’s just Friday and I feel our competitors have a bit of performance still to reveal.

"I really enjoyed driving on the new Zandvoort. The banking feels very special on the first timed lap and it’s just overall a fun track to drive on. Then for the race, I don’t think there will be much overtaking so it will be important to secure a good grid position tomorrow.

"Our race pace was not as good as the single lap performance so we will be focusing on that."

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:11.601, P3; FP2: 1:11.056, P2

"It’s an impressive and different track compared to what we are used to. It was fun to try different lines in FP1 around the banking corners and to push a bit more in FP2. I enjoyed myself out there today and the atmosphere with the fans close to the track is great!

"In terms of performance, we felt confident straightaway with the car balance and with the car performance. We managed to do some decent running on soft tyres, whereas other competitive cars were caught out by the flags, so that’s maybe why we look so good on the time sheet. For sure we have room to improve, but still the car felt good and it was a positive Friday for us."

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving the (55) Scuderia Ferrari SF21 during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 03, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Red Bull

Verstappen looked quick from the off, although he was narrowly pipped by his title rival in the first session. His afternoon was disrupted by red flags, which cost him his flying lap on the C3 soft tyres, leaving the Dutchman somewhat frustrated. Nonetheless, plenty of laps is more than championship rival Hamilton managed and puts Verstappen in a good position heading into the weekend. As for Perez, he took longer to find his feet out there but should start to move up the order tomorrow.

READ MORE: Verstappen says he would have topped FP2 at Zandvoort without red flag

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:11.597, P2; FP2: 1:11.264, P5

“It’s been a good day and it was really enjoyable to see everyone in orange having fun in the grandstands. Of course the track is also very fun to drive with a lot of fast corners so it was good to finally get out there. From our side I don’t think the lap times are very representative today as I did my fastest lap on a used set of tyres. I was improving on another push lap and then Mazepin had a spin otherwise I think we would be higher up but it’s only Friday and we’re still looking at all the details of where we can do better and improve. The long runs looked competitive which is positive but we also know that the start position is very important here so we’ll see what we can do to get more pace out of the car overnight.”

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:13.328, P16; FP2: 1:11.946, P12

“It was awesome to get out there and drive this old school circuit. It’s very different to the other tracks we go to and with so many consecutive right-hand corners it’s a pretty unique and physical challenge. I’ve never driven here before so it’s completely new and with so many red flags it was difficult to get into a rhythm. You really need the confidence going into the session to trust the car in order to push it and I wasn’t quite there or fully comfortable today so there are a couple of things on my side that we need to look at and make some decisions on in order to get the most out of the package. It’s amazing to see so many fans enjoying themselves and cheering in the grandstands so I expect the energy around the track to only get better and better over the weekend.”

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 03, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Alpine

After a very solid FP1, Alpine had an even better afternoon with Ocon sitting on top of the leaderboard for much of the session despite gong for his soft tyre run early before the track was fully up to speed. Although he was eventually bumped down by the Ferrari boys, it was still an impressive effort from the Frenchman. With Alonso not too far behind, Alpine could be the team most likely to push the Scuderia at the head of the midfield tomorrow.

READ MORE: Ocon says he found ‘close to a perfect balance’ after going P3 in second practice at Zandvoort

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:12.231, P7; FP2: 1:11.074, P3

“It’s been a fun Friday and learning this track in a Formula 1 car has been awesome. It’s been high grip, a lot of Gs, undulation and taking on the banked corners, which, overall, has been mega fun. As a team, it’s been a good day and we look quite competitive, but we know qualifying is when that counts. I experienced that in FP1 with the close call with Lando [Norris]. It was a little close for comfort but in the end nothing happened and we move on. The car handled really well today and I’m sure there’s more for us to find. It’s a small track, narrow in places, and managing traffic in qualifying will be a challenge.”

Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:12.158, P6; FP2: 1:11.280, P6

“It was another challenging day for us but it was the same for everybody with all of the small incidents and red flags throughout the day. We have to analyse everything now and make sure we’re in the best shape tomorrow. I don’t think it’s going to be an easy weekend and the traffic in qualifying will be difficult to manage. I do like the track, it’s quite different in a few places and the banked corners are fun. The atmosphere is amazing too. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“It was interesting to discover a new track, but unfortunately we lost a lot of time with the stoppages and had to slightly change our schedule to recover. In the afternoon we did a good job, completing long and short runs and pick up as much information as possible. In terms of performance, so far we are in a good position. On the Medium tyres, Esteban did a good run and had decent pace. Both drivers also looked strong on the Soft tyre from the initial data; we have to go through all the analysis tonight, but it was a positive day, all things considered.”

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Alpine A521 Renault during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 03, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Clive Rose - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Vettel pulled over in FP1 with a suspected PU failure that rapidly turned into a possible ERS issue. After extinguishing his own car, the German headed back to the pits but a lengthy delay ensued as mechanics headed out to make sure the car was safe to handle. All of which meant the field lost over half an hour of vital running. The German did get out for most of FP2 to make up for lost time, looking quick to boot. With Stroll there or thereabouts, Aston Martin are well placed heading into the weekend.

READ MORE: ‘We like Sebastian, he likes us’ says Szafnauer, as he hints Vettel will remain at Aston Martin for 2022

Sebastian Vettel – FP1: 1:15.984, P19; FP2: 1:11.713, P10

“I think overall that was a decent afternoon session. We had some catching up to do because of the power unit issue this morning. So I had to find the rhythm quickly and it helped that I have driven here before many years ago. They did not change too much on the track [layout], but I think the changes they have made are for the better. It is an exciting lap because of the banking and corners with camber are always good fun to drive. We need more circuits with these types of corners. The crowd was great, too, and I am enjoying the atmosphere. There is more to come from me and the car so it will be interesting to see what we can find overnight.”

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:12.431, P9; FP2: 1:12.136, P14

“It was a positive day to start the weekend and I really enjoyed the experience of driving at Zandvoort once again. Track time was limited in FP1, we finished ninth, and we looked strong in FP2 until we were caught out by the red flag when I was on a quick lap. I felt comfortable in the car and I think we have a good baseline. We know that qualifying is going to be key to success here because overtaking will be so difficult, but there is some degradation, which might make strategy a bit more of a factor. We have got plenty of data to look at tonight and we will aim to take another step forward tomorrow.”

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Lance Stroll of Canada driving the (18) Aston Martin AMR21 Mercedes during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 03, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

McLaren

Norris was in the thick of the action in FP1, managing to run wide through the gravel on his late flying lap but fortunately with enough momentum to return to the race track, where he was then promptly impeded by Ocon. Ricciardo kept his head down more, trying to learn both the track and how to handle the MCL35M through the tricky corners, which has been plaguing him all year. He is carrying some renewed confidence after that season-best P4 from Spa though, so it will be interesting to see what he manages in qualifying tomorrow.

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:13.081, P14; FP2: 1:12.157, P15

“This track’s cool, it’s a lot of fun! I definitely enjoyed that. This morning I was relatively comfortable, this afternoon not so. We tried some things on the car that, in hindsight, I don’t think were the right direction. But, that’s what free practice is for. It made FP2 a little more tricky, but we’ll go back and learn from that. I think we’ll still be in good shape tomorrow, but today we were just a little bit off in FP2. There are some quick cars out there, so we’ve got our work cut out for us, but it’s a fun track and I’m really enjoying it.”

Lando Norris - FP1: 1:12.679, P11; FP2: 1:11.488, P8

“A tough first day. It was tricky with the traffic and difficult to get laps in with the red flags and stoppages. It began with a good feeling with the car, and we weren’t too bad, but we’ve got some work to do to be able to consistently get good laps in during qualifying, which I’m sure we can do. A decent day but work to do overnight.”

Andrea Stella, Racing Director

“It’s very nice to be here in Zandvoort for the first time with modern F1 cars. We’ve discovered a very interesting circuit with some special features – the banking is like nothing we experience elsewhere on the current calendar and presents interesting challenges for the drivers who can adopt a variety of lines. We expect qualifying tomorrow to prove crucial because overtaking on Sunday is going to be difficult.

“Today’s sessions were disrupted by red flags, which meant we acquired less data than we ideally would’ve liked in order to prepare for tomorrow. We did, however, gain enough knowledge of the circuit to ensure we have a very busy evening studying what we’ve learned, putting in place everything we need for a competitive performance in qualifying and for the race, which may be eventful at this ‘old school’ track.”

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) McLaren F1 Team MCL35M Mercedes during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 03, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Clive Rose - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

AlphaTauri

Tsunoda wanted as much track time as possible having never raced here – but unfortunately, after an early spin, he was side lined in the garage for most of FP1 due to a car issue. The rookie did get plenty of running in during the afternoon session, improving to a respectable P13. As for Gasly, he looks top 10 material once again, the Frenchman trying to take advantage of the AlphaTauri’s slightly stronger one lap pace at a track where grid position could prove vital.

Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:12.515, P10; FP2: 1:11.462, P7

“I must say it was really fun today, it’s an amazing track to drive on and very unique, especially Turn 3 – it’s like sliding in a toboggan, with the banking. Obviously, the sessions were interrupted quite a lot with the red flags, so it was difficult to make it through our whole programme, but we still managed to complete a lot of it. I think we’re not looking as good as we would’ve liked but hopefully, we can work tonight to find a bit more performance for tomorrow. I’m confident we can do that. I think traffic in Q1 tomorrow could be an issue and I need to try to avoid this mess. Then I think looking towards the race it will be very difficult to overtake, so the priority is getting a good starting position.”

Yuki Tsunoda - FP1: No time set, P20; FP2: 1:12.096, P13

“In the morning we were testing some aero components, but we had a minor PU issue that we had to investigate and weren’t able to go back out. For the rest of the session, I watched a lot of on-board videos from other cars and tried to learn as much as possible before the afternoon. In FP2 I completed my first push-lap, I tried to take it easy at first as there’s not a lot of run-off areas on this track. At the end I managed a lap I was quite happy with, I obviously need to do a lot more work tonight, but I felt quite confident in the car and it was important for the team to get this data, so we can prepare for Qualifying tomorrow. I think Quali will be really important, as it seems that it’ll be difficult to overtake here during the race, so hopefully I can put it altogether when it counts tomorrow.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

“We had quite a complicated day, having some issues with the car as well as a number of red flags, which had an impact on our test plans. Pierre had a busy programme in FP1, completing a number of aero tests before the red flag. Following this it was just a case of fitting the Softs and getting a lap in but, of course, everyone had the same idea, so there was a large amount of traffic on his fastest lap. Unfortunately, Yuki had some reliability issues during FP1, which meant he was unable to complete a single timed lap during the session, which somewhat put him on the back foot, given this is a brand-new track. This was traced to a minor PU issue, which we were able to resolve, and the mechanics did a great job getting the car ready to run in FP2.

We worked to a typical plan for both cars in the afternoon, with short runs on new tyres before the longer run at the end of the session. Yuki spent the session building up the pace and in the end on the soft tyre he set a respectable lap. Pierre continued with the aero test plan, gathering further data for us to analyse tonight. We seem to be lacking a bit of pace on the short run, so we have some work to do tonight to understand how to improve the car. Also, given it’s a new track and many of the corners are linked, driver lines can be quite different, so we will spend some time analysing all of the GPS and video data, which we have at our disposal. It looks very tight in the midfield, but of course our aim is Q3 tomorrow.”

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT02 Honda during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 03, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

After announcing his end of season retirement plans before the race, Raikkonen let his driving do the talking today. Sporting flow-vis paint for much of FP1, the Finn managed a decent haul of laps across both sessions. But he had no answer for the pace of his team mate, Giovinazzi settling in here immediately and looking strong from the off.

WATCH: 'Just leave me alone' – The ultimate Kimi Raikkonen team radio collection

Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:13.053, P13; FP2: 1:12.206, P16

“We did a good job today, despite all the interruptions with the red flags. It’s quite a different track from what we usually drive on, but it’s nice: it’s not an easy one to put a lap together but driving on something new is a good challenge, and the crowd really makes an atmosphere.. As always on a Friday, we still have to find a few improvements here and there: it’s normal and we can make a step forward for qualifying. The objective remains the same, to have a place in Q2 – we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”

Antonio Giovinazzi - FP1: 1:12.359, P8; FP2: 1:11.678, P9

“It’s been a positive Friday, this track is really cool to drive, especially with these cars. From the moment we arrive, it feels like a party and it’s a huge credit to the Dutch fans, they really welcomed Formula One back. The track is enjoyable but it’s not an easy one on which to put everything together: still, we did a good job and we’re satisfied with where we are, both in the race runs and on the single lap. Tomorrow, of course, is another day, but we had a good start and we can build on it: hopefully we can have a good qualifying as overtaking is not easy here, so Saturday’s result will be crucial. We will give it our best.”

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Alfa Romeo Racing C41 Ferrari during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 03, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Clive Rose - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Haas

Mazepin blotted his copybook in FP2, heading into Turn 11 a bit quick and losing the rear of his VF-21. Sliding into the gravel, he found himself beached which brought out the red flags and ended his session. As for Schumacher, he was off the pace in the morning but looked more comfortable in FP2, although he too tangled with the gravel. Fortunately the German only dipped a wheel in the loose stuff and so was able to continue.

Mick Schumacher – FP1: 1:13.847, P18; FP2: 1:12.607, P17

“I think the word rollercoaster really fits for here! It was a decent day, still lots to learn about this new track but I’m sure it’s the same for everyone. I still think we need to tweak it a little bit to get everything we can out of it, but I think we’re on a good road. We still have some margin but I’m sure we will find it. Things might look different tomorrow but for today we can be very happy.”

Nikita Mazepin – FP1: 1:13.516, P17; FP2: 1:12.835, P19

“It was a lot more fun than I expected. The first time I passed the banking in the last corner I experienced something very different with my body – it felt quite cool! A new feeling for me, for sure, in Formula 1. Overall, it was quite a challenging day. I was very happy with the car in FP1 and then we made some changes which didn’t quite do what we expected given the track has improved. Loads learned and looking forward to getting out there in FP3.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“A very good track – I think it’s very interesting and everyone’s very excited about it because it’s all new and it’s different to the other tracks. In FP1 there was the issue of Vettel being stuck out there, so we didn’t do too many laps but the laps we did, all went well. FP2 started well. Except for the spin and ending up in the gravel for Nikita, we had a good session. We’re getting a lot of data and drivers are getting used to the racetrack. We just try and learn as much as possible.”

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Mick Schumacher of Germany driving the (47) Haas F1 Team VF-21 Ferrari during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 03, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Williams

Friday was a surprisingly quiet day for the Grove-based outfit after the highs of Spa. Latifi went for his soft tyre run early on in FP2 which explains why his time tumbled down the order, while Russell’s best effort was disrupted by red flags. Tomorrow will tell all as to whether those times are remotely representative, but the comparisons to Hungary here aren’t likely to be helping the team, who struggled over one lap in Budapest.

George Russell – FP1: 1:13.181, P15; FP2: 1:12.855, P20

"It was a great experience driving this circuit today. I think it’s definitely a driver’s favourite, it’s very undulating and all the banking is great to drive. It’s fast, flowing and you can’t put a wheel wrong and that is what we all want from a race track. It wasn’t easy out there though and it was a very interrupted day with all the red flags. There’s therefore not a huge amount to take away from today but the pace isn’t quite as we’d like. Nevertheless, a few improvements overnight and I think we will be able to make some good steps. The traffic is also really difficult to manage with this short lap and I think that it is going to be key to get a clear run tomorrow, particularly in Q1."

Nicholas Latifi - FP1: 1:12.907, P12; FP2: 1:12.610, P18

"It was definitely challenging out there today. It’s a tight and twisty circuit with very few straights, so having 20 cars on track made it difficult to get some space. I spent a lot of time looking in my mirrors which can be quite difficult to manage on a hot lap. It’s also a very fun track to drive though; it’s high speed and narrow, so a proper old school track that will punish you if you make a mistake!

"I think we have some work to do tonight as it’s not quite where we wanted to be ending FP2. Whilst I felt like I got up to speed quite quickly, the red flags caused a lot of disruption, so it would have been great to get some more data from the team’s perspective. I think there’s some improvements we can make in both low and high fuel runs, so we’ll see what we can do and go again tomorrow."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"It has been fantastic to run the cars on this tricky circuit. The whole track is demanding with very little opportunity for the cars or drivers to get a rest. The profiling of the circuit makes several of the corners quite difficult and places different demands on the car and the tyres, with several drivers finding the limit during the day. The regular red flags hampered some of our work, but we still got a lot of our programme done, including some useful high fuel running late in FP2.

"With a short track and hard tyre compounds, track position is going to be at a premium in Q1 as it was regularly today. Whilst we thought that Zandvoort might be less favourable for the FW43B than Spa, the times today don’t really tell the full story as we didn’t get to do representative laps. There is a lot to do tonight to improve the car, but we are happy that there is more to come tomorrow."

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Nicholas Latifi of Canada driving the (6) Williams Racing FW43B Mercedes during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 03, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Pirelli

Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing

“There was at least one red flag during every session today – including Formula 3 free practice and qualifying – which obviously limited all the running and made it harder to draw any firm conclusions. It was also quite a dirty track, with sand and gravel on the surface. However, the teams still managed to obtain some of the data that they needed on this unique and unforgiving new track – and this was useful preparation, as safety cars and red flags seem likely to be a possibility during the race as well. More work and information is needed tomorrow though in order to get a clearer idea of the optimal strategy. We managed to get a good idea of the gap between medium and soft today, while we do not yet have enough data to accurately predict the gap between medium and hard. Despite the impressive banking at Zandvoort, the tyres are exactly the same as we bring to the other races, with the latest structure introduced from Silverstone designed to cope with even the heaviest loads.”

HIGHLIGHTS: All the action from second practice for the Dutch GP at Zandvoort

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