During the weekend 2-4 September 2022, Formula 1 lands in Zandvoort for the Dutch Grand Prix, fifteenth round of the World Championship. This Grand Prix is the second race after the mandatory summer break, held one week after the Belgian Grand Prix, and the ninth overall race of the Championship in the old continent. The Grand Prix represents the fifteenth round of the season one week after the Belgian Grand Prix, the fourteenth race of the championship. For the sixth time during the season, the first between the Bahrain Grand Prix, the season's inaugural race, and the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the second between the Spanish Grand Prix and the Monaco Grand Prix, the third between the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and the Canadian Grand Prix, the fourth between the British Grand Prix and the Austrian Grand Prix, and the fifth between the French Grand Prix and the Hungarian Grand Prix, the world championship sees the holding of a Grand Prix one week apart. It is the ninth overall championship race on the old continent, the penultimate and sixth consecutive to be held in Europe, the first to be held in September, the fourth in the second part of the season, and the second race after the mandatory three-week summer break. The contract for holding the Dutch Grand Prix on the Formula 1 World Championship calendar, also at the Zandvoort circuit, is valid until the end of next season. Sponsor of the Grand Prix is, as was the case in the 2021 edition, local beer company Heineken. Just over 30.000 spectators are expected over the course of the race weekend, which is an all-time record for the Grand Prix. Maximum capacity is allowed for spectators in the grandstands, with ticket requests exceeding one million, after the previous edition was capped at 100.000 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is the second of a triptych of races, the only one in this championship, placed between the previous Belgian Grand Prix, the only round run in August, and the following Italian Grand Prix, the second and last to be run in September, all to be run within a week's distance of each other, an occurrence that already occurred in the previous season when the return of the Dutch Grand Prix to the Formula One World Championship calendar was placed by the Federation between the Belgian and Italian Grand Prix. The holding of three Grand Prix for three consecutive weeks occurred, for the first time ever in the history of the category, in the 2018 championship on one occasion, and then three times each in the last two previous seasons.
Present on the Formula 1 World Championship calendar since the 1952 season and valid as a round of the category since the same year, the Dutch Grand Prix sees the holding of its thirty-fourth edition, the thirty-second valid for the world championship. The Zandvoort circuit is the track to have hosted all the editions of the race, on different configurations, the most recent of which in use by the category since the past edition when the circuit returned to the Formula 1 world championship calendar for the first time since the 1985 season, after undergoing a thorough renovation. The circuit was also the site of two non-world championship races, in the inaugural edition of the Formula 1 World Championship in 1950 and the following one in 1951. The Dutch Grand Prix was not run in the 1954 season, in the 1956 and 1957 seasons, all three due to lack of funds to run the race, in the 1972 season, in which the race was originally on the calendar but the drivers refused to run because the facilities and conditions of the circuit were not of the same standard as those of other Grand Prix races, and between 1986 and 2020, as the company that ran the circuit went bankrupt after the 1985 edition. The Dutch Grand Prix was not run in the 1954 season, in the 1956 and 1957 seasons, all three due to lack of funds to run the race, in the 1972 season, in which the race was originally on the calendar but the drivers refused to run because the facilities and conditions of the circuit were not of the same standard as those of other Grand Prix races, and between 1986 and 2020, because the company that ran the circuit went bankrupt after the 1985 edition. As early as 2020, the Grand Prix was scheduled to return to the World Championship calendar, placed in May, 35 years later, but it was canceled, along with several other Grand Prix, due to issues dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic, thus postponing its return by one season. The Chinese driver of Swiss stable Alfa Romeo, Zhou Guanyu, and the Danish driver of U.S. stable Haas, Kevin Magnussen, will race at the Zandvoort circuit for the first time in Formula 1. Prior to the renovation of the track layout, Zhou took part in ten races in the former European F3 during the 2018 season, always finishing on the podium in the three events run on the Dutch circuit. In 2016, he also raced at Zandvoort in the former Formula 3 Masters. Magnussen, on the other hand, competed at the Dutch track in the former Formula Renault Eurocup in 2009, scoring two podiums, and in 2011 he finished third in the Formula 3 Masters.
The British driver of the German Mercedes stable, Lewis Hamilton, in 2005, the Finnish driver of Alfa Romeo, Valtteri Bottas, in 2009 and 2010, and the Dutch world champion of the Austrian Red Bull Racing stable, Max Verstappen, in 2014, are all winners of the Formula 3 Masters category held at Zandvoort. On the eve of the previous Belgian Grand Prix, Alpine's Spanish driver and two-time World Champion in the category with the French team under the Renault name in 2005 and 2006, Fernando Alonso, signs a multi-year agreement with the British stable Aston Martin, replacing German Sebastian Vettel, who, on the eve of the Hungarian Grand Prix, announced his retirement from the category after fifteen seasons. Confirmed alongside Alonso is the other driver from the British stable, Canadian Lance Stroll. Alpine, as a replacement for Alonso, initially officiates the 2021 Formula 2 champion and reserve driver of the French team, Australian Oscar Piastri. Later, the driver denies having signed an agreement with the French team and says he will not race for the team in the following season. Alpine, however, says it correctly exercised a clause in the Australian driver's contract.
"On Monday the Commission will determine the recognition of the contract with Oscar, which is why we announced him as our driver for next year. However, he also signed with McLaren, and in Formula 1 you cannot sign two contracts. That is why we will go before the CRB. We know that our contract is valid, and now it is up to this body to decide. When Jenson Button was between BAR and Williams in 2005, it took two days to resolve the issue".
The Federation's Contract Recognition Commission meets with the parties involved on the Monday after the Belgian race is held to determine in the following days what will be a valid agreement between the driver and one of the two teams between Alpine and McLaren, the other manufacturer flanked by the Australian driver's future. On the eve of the Dutch Grand Prix on Friday, September 2, 2022, it officially exposes itself on the dispute involving the Australian driver, stating that Piastri's only valid contract for 2023 and 2024 is the one signed with McLaren on July 4, 2022, the day after the British Grand Prix was held. The British manufacturer thus formalizes Piastri's signing for next season alongside British driver Lando Norris, replacing Ricciardo. Oscar Piastri said:
"I'm extremely excited to be making my F1 debut with such a prestigious team as McLaren and I'm very grateful for the opportunity that's been offered to me. The team has a long tradition of giving young talent a chance, and I'm looking forward to working hard alongside Lando to push the team towards the front of the grid. I'm focused on preparing for my F1 debut in 2023 and starting my F1 career in papaya".
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren F1 Team, adds:
"The entire team is delighted to welcome Oscar to McLaren for the 2023 F1 season. He has an impressive racing career to date, and we are sure that together with Lando, he will be able to help us move another step forward towards our ambitions. We still have an important job to do this season which the team remains focused on, before we will then ensure Oscar is integrated into the team as quickly as possible and ready for the challenges ahead. We look forward to preparing for an exciting 2023 season together".
And Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, concludes:
"Oscar is one of the up-and-coming talents coming through the feeder series into F1 and we are delighted to see him join the team for 2023. Winning both F3 and F2 in successive rookie seasons is a real achievement and testament to his talent in single-seater racing. In Lando and Oscar we have a young, exciting F1 line-up with a huge amount of potential, standing us in good stead to achieve our future ambitions. Oscar is an exciting addition to the McLaren family, and we look forward to seeing him grow with our F1 team".
Piastri chooses 81 as the race number. Alpine is forced to pay McLaren and Piastri a total of £530.000 in legal fees.
"We take note of the decision, the case is closed and we will not appeal. We will notify our driver pair in due course. Now our focus will be all on the Dutch Grand Prix and the fight for fourth place in the Constructors' standings".
In the meantime, the Federation is considering whether there are grounds to grant Colton Herta, U.S. IndyCar Series driver for the team, also of the same nationality, Andretti Autosport, a super-license, which is 40 points away from being finally obtained. Herta, who holds the record for the youngest driver to win an IndyCar Series race, at 18 years, 11 months and 28 days, has been approached in recent weeks by Italian manufacturer AlphaTauri, should the team's current driver, Frenchman Pierre Gasly, be let go to drive for transalpine manufacturer Alpine in place of Spaniard Fernando Alonso. On Thursday, September 1, 2022, the reigning World Champion, Max Verstappen, is appointed an officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau. It, of a chivalrous-military type, is the third largest in the Netherlands. Verstappen's appointment comes on the heels of the drivers' title he achieved the previous season.
"The appointment as an Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau is a very proud moment for me and came unexpectedly at the beginning of my career. I want to thank my family and loved ones, but also Red Bull, which has been like a second family to me. We have achieved this together: we share the same beliefs and values, which is very important to me. I could not have done this without you. And while I am very proud of what we have achieved, this is just the beginning, and I can assure you that we will still be working hard for many years to come".
Meanwhile, also on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, Pirelli announced that the second free practice session of the Japanese and U.S. Grands Prix, with the former returning to the Formula 1 World Championship calendar after being canceled the past two seasons due to issues dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic, scheduled for the following Oct. 9 and 23, 2022, respectively, will be lengthened by 30 minutes from the default schedule of one hour to allow teams to test the sole tire supplier's prototype tires for the following season. The goal is to get data, feedback and opinions from the manufacturers to figure out which tires will then be presented and used in 2023. Says Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director:
"At the moment we have another test with Red Bull on the Tuesday after the Italian Grand Prix, in Monza. And then we asked for event testing. Basically we will use the Free 2 at Suzuka, at the Japanese Grand Prix; in Austin, home of the U.S. Grand Prix; and in Mexico City. The latter will be a back-up event in case of rain in Suzuka or Texas. It will be a test for all 20 single-seaters. Each car will have a different test plan. Each single-seater may have different prototypes. We will do run plans with the same number of laps, because we don't want to give anyone an advantage. So we say very similar run plans, but with different prototypes. Free Practice 2 will be 90 minutes, not 60. So we will have a little more flexibility. In terms of the session, it will be similar to a normal free practice session for the teams, because then clearly we have to take into account the mileage of the power units that will be used. We cannot increase the mileage of the power units compared to their systems and so on. It's complicated, because every time you find a solution you also find problems in the solutions themselves. The idea of using Free 2s is a good idea. You don't force the teams to move to a different place, you don't force them to stay longer like Tuesday and Wednesday on the circuit, but then you have to use the same car they use for the rest of the weekend, with the same engine. So mileage is an issue. Every time we have an idea we have to discuss it for weeks to find a final solution that works. I think with the current plan we have a good solution, at least for now. Of course, this is the first time. So we will have to see whether it will work to or not. The idea is to keep all these kinds of tests available for the future. So when we have the European season, after some races, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays we can use some teams available for tire testing, dedicate the whole day to testing. The problem, though, is that if it comes to rain in Free Practice 2, it's over. When you have a day, maybe it rains, I don't know, in the morning, but then the track is dry and you can use at least part of the day. Or, if there is a mechanical problem during the 90 minutes, the car cannot run for the rest of the test. It is not possible to plan for the mechanical problem, or predict it. So we have to work on different solutions. So for the future, I said we will have dedicated testing. We have a longer period for testing. Right now we can test until mid-December and from February 1 with the 2022 car, not with a new single-seater, of course. And we will also keep testing in the race".
For this Grand Prix, the FIA designates Portuguese Eduardo Freitas as race director. Former Formula One driver Emanuele Pirro is appointed as assistant steward for the race. The Italian has served in this capacity on several occasions in the past, most recently at the Canadian Grand Prix. It is the German car manufacturer Mercedes, as in the previous race, that provides the safety car and the medical car. The federation mainly confirms the two zones established in the previous edition of 2021 where the Drag Reduction System can be activated, when the Zandvoort circuit returned to the world championship calendar, on a different configuration, for the first time since the 1985 season, with a variation regarding the first zone compared to the last edition, lengthened by 300 m. In addition to always including the main straight, it is moved from 30 m after Turn 14 to 40 m after Turn 13, thus including Turn 14, the last corner of the track, famous for its 18-degree banking. The change helps drivers enter the main straight by bringing more speed when attempting to overtake. The point for determining the gap between drivers is thus moved, from 15 m before Turn 13 to 20 m after Turn 12. The second zone is established between Turn 10 and Turn 11, with detection point set at the entrance of Turn 10. In the 2021 edition, however, at the end of the first free practice session on Friday, the Federation did not allow the lengthening of the first DRS zone with the use on the banking of Turn 14, such as to allow the opening of the mobile device in advance, after requests from some drivers, in order to facilitate overtaking. However, for this race, initially, during the first free practice session on Friday, the Federation had given the green light to conduct open DRS testing at Turn 14 characterized by banking. In the section of the circuit in question, in the previous edition, due to safety issues, the world motorsports body denied the use of the mobile device even on an experimental basis. For this race, the federation sets the minimum speed in the pit lane at 60 km/h. The world motorsports body stipulates that if drivers do not drive through Turn 1, Turn 8 or Turn 11 correctly, they must use the outside escape route leading back to the track at the exit of Turn 1, Turn 9 and Turn 12, respectively.
Compared with the last edition, the curb located at the exit of Turn 12 has been extended. The gravel adjacent to the exit of Turn 11 has been modified with the addition of fake gravel. Beyond the white line demarcating the track, a special one-meter wide area was made in which the gravel was covered with a resinous material, making it look like classic gravel, but in reality it is completely solid. This change was made to discourage drivers from looking for the limit there, thus reducing the possibility of having single-seaters end up in the real gravel section anyway, as well as carrying it into the line as happened the previous year in the side categories, leading to the display of the red flag. Compared to the previous edition, the circuit features a new light panel, installed on the outside on the left at Turn 7. Light panel number 14, previously number 13, is moved slightly further back, placed on the outside on the right after Turn 10. Light panel number 16, formerly number 15, is moved slightly further forward, placed outside on the right after turn 12. Light panel number 19, previously number 18, is moved slightly further back, placed outside on the left at Turn 14, after the change in the activation point of the first zone of the Drag Reduction System. On Thursday, McLaren uses the second of the six fire covers granted during the season to carry out operations on its cars. The British stable receives no penalties. Before the start of the first free practice session on Friday, the second unit related to the energy recovery system is installed on Sergio Pérez's car. The Mexican Red Bull Racing driver is not penalized on the starting grid because the newly installed component is among those that can be used in the maximum number set by the technical regulations. A third gearbox and transmission is installed on Lewis Hamilton's car. The British Mercedes driver is not penalized on the starting grid as the newly installed components are among those that can be used in the maximum number set by the technical regulations. Before the start of the third free practice session on Saturday, it is established that to counter the different speeds held, drivers, during their launch lap or low-speed laps, must stay off the racing line where possible between the exit of Turn 10 and the entrance to Turn 11, instead of Turn 13 as previously established.
For this Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, offers a choice of C1, C2 and C3 compound tires, the hardest compounds that characterize the entire range made available by the tire supply company for the championship, for the first time since the British Grand Prix and for the fourth time this season, given the characteristics presented by the Dutch circuit. The Italian company again appoints the same type as in the previous edition of the Grand Prix, when it returned to the Formula 1 World Championship calendar for the first time in the 1985 edition, on a different configuration, after undergoing a thorough renovation. Regarding the layout of the Zandvoort circuit with the consequent choice of the types of tires chosen for the weekend, Pirelli’s Head of F1 and Car Racing Mario Isola declares:
"Zandvoort proved to be a spectacular addition to the calendar last year, and the most challenging parts for tyres are the banked Turns 3 and 14, which are taken at high speed and place sustained combined forces on the car: downforce as well as lateral demands. Along with the other overall demands of the circuit layout, this is why we have nominated the hardest three compounds in the range for only the fourth time in 2022, after Bahrain, Spain and Great Britain. The new car-tyre package this season should make overtaking easier on a track where it was hard to pass last year: the majority of drivers stopped just once to maintain track position, but this time there could be more of a focus on the softer compounds - which might lead to more two-stoppers and drivers pushing even harder".
At McLaren, the English driver Lando Norris is enthusiastic about driving on this circuit and has confidence in his team to continue to fight against the direct competitors in the Alpine standings:
"Zandvoort, let's go! I really enjoy driving the circuit and I’ve had some decent results there coming through the junior categories. The undulation and turns make it feel like a rollercoaster ride so I’m excited to get out there and give it all we’ve got. It also always has an incredible atmosphere and I like to think that most of the orange is there to support McLaren... Last weekend made it clear that we’ve still got a lot of work to do to keep in the fight with the Alpines. I have full faith in the team and know we will do everything we can to push through and be as prepared as we can to keep battling. The next two races are key so let’s keep focused and keep up the hard work".
Of the same opinion is the other McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo who hopes for a good weekend to be able to fight with the Alpines:
"I’m looking forward to Zandvoort. It’s an awesome circuit and has such a fun, almost festival-like atmosphere which is great for your mood going into the weekend. It’s more of an old-school circuit with interesting features like Tarzan and the ability to overtake there, so I’m excited to get on track and see how different it is from last year in the new cars. I’ve spent the last couple of days in Amsterdam resetting, eating stroopwafels, and looking at how we can improve for the coming weekend. Last weekend was not what we wanted it to be, but we’ve bounced back before so we can definitely do the same this time around. We’ve got some good learnings from Spa which we can use for this weekend so hopefully we come out a bit better and can properly battle with the Alpines".
McLaren’s Team Principal Andreas Seidl analyzes the Zandvoort circuit in detail and hopes to maximize the result by making the most of their package:
"Zandvoort is an incredibly quick circuit and has had some memorable moments over the years. With F1 trialing DRS through the final banked corner for FP1, it should be interesting to see how the new iteration of cars perform and what impact it has on our ability to overtake, especially as the cars can run side by side there. The undulation and swooping sections are also a good feature of the circuit and provide a nice challenge for the drivers. We’ve spent the last few days analyzing the past weekend and ensuring we learn as much as possible from it. The result in Spa was not what we hoped but we can take these learnings and use them to maximize our package. We need to keep our full focus on making every small gain and pushing the car to get as much as we possibly can out of it. Let’s keep our heads down and get back to it".
In the Haas team, Guenther Steiner regarding the updates brought to the car also in relation to the feedback from the drivers declares:
"It’s difficult to say their feelings on this because it’s a back-to-back and really on that circuit, we didn’t shine. The good thing is we see the data on the car is matching the data in the wind tunnel and at this stage, that’s the most important thing".
On the remaining races to be held, analyzing the characteristics of his car, Guenther declares:
"I’ll start with the track that won’t be good for us, which will be Monza - that’s not our favourite track - but I think hopefully we can have good results in Zandvoort and Japan. In Austin we’ve always struggled a little bit but hopefully we’ll get it done this year, but definitely where I’m not looking forward to is Monza".
On the return of Formula 1 to Zandvoort, Guenther says:
"I think it was the best example of an old school venue with a new interpretation. I think the organizing committee there, the promoter, did a fantastic job reviving an old track so we can go back while making it ready for the modern era of Formula 1. Hats off to them as everybody’s really looking forward to going back to Zandvoort".
Regarding the first time Kevin Magnussen will race in Formula 1 at this circuit, he is convinced:
"I think they prepare themselves for the race track pretty well and easily, that’s what they do. Obviously going out to find grip levels needs a little bit of time but I think he’ll cope like at any other new circuit. Hopefully we have a trouble free FP1 and FP2 so we can get as many laps in as possible to be ready for qualifying but I’m not afraid that Kevin won’t adapt to it".
At the Zandvoort circuit, Danish Team Haas driver Kevin Magnussen says:
"I drove around Zandvoort in Formula 3 and also before that in Formula Renault 2.0 and I’ve always loved the track. It’s changed a bit since I last drove there but from what I saw on TV, it still has the same sort of character and is still as exciting".
Kevin hopes that this track is favorable for his car and at the same time shows himself energized and motivated to drive here:
"Specifically for the VF-22, I don’t really know, but driving a Formula 1 car around there is going to be awesome. It’s one of those places from back in the seventies and eighties so you really will get a bit of nostalgia driving around there in a Formula 1 car. It’s going to be significant so I’m excited and looking forward to it".
On one of the main features of the track, such as the two banked corners, Kevin argues:
"I’m a fan of banked corners. It means you can use different lines much better so you can get out of the wake of the car in front and still go quick through corners and it’s better for close racing and overtaking. With these new cars, I think Zandvoort is going to be one of the tracks where it’s going to become easier to overtake, so we’ll see more like we did in Hungary".
About the development of the car related to the updated package, he thinks:
"There was a shutdown of two weeks where no one has been able to work but we should hopefully still be able to take a step in terms of learning, going into the weekend. That’s going to of course continue for the rest of the year like it did with the car we started with - we kept getting more out of it, which was good to see - so I hope we can have the same process with this upgrade and we keep getting more lap time out of it. From a driving perspective, it was pretty transparent. The car felt a little bit different in high-speed corners, but in a good way, so I’m happy with that. I hope that’s going to continue and I expect it to. We still have to keep working on some things, you always have to keep working on everything but it’s going to be interesting to see on tracks that are more high-speed how that’s going to impact the performance".
Remaining in the Haas team, Mick Schumacher is enthusiastic about returning to this track:
"It was very banked, very different to years before when I’ve driven there. I enjoy going to Zandvoort, it’s a fun track because people are in a good mood and you have the sea which is close so it’s nice to go. I’m excited to go back".
On whether the characteristics of the car can be favorable on this type of track, Mick argues:
"It’s hard to say whether it’s going to suit our car or not, I would hope so. One thing that is for sure is it’s going to be a lot more difficult compared to last year. We have cars which are a lot more mechanical, and at tracks like Baku and others they’re a bit harder than we’d like it to be, and I guess Zandvoort is going to be one of those tracks as well. We have banked corners where cars are getting quite low, and we saw this year that once we get low, things turn out to be very bumpy".
On the peculiar characteristic of this track, namely the banked curves, Mick argues:
"Banked corners essentially allow us to go faster through the corner. On the physical side, it only means more strain on the neck, but Zandvoort has always been a track that has been tough on the neck. There are a lot of laps, a lot of quick corners, and it’s high downforce as well so it’s definitely going to be interesting. It also means there’s going to be opportunities if you’re fit enough to withstand that, it gives you the chance to perhaps profit from mistakes happening from other drivers. At a track like that, it usually ends up getting quite close to the wall or through the gravel - it could give one or the other the position".
Regarding the updated evolution package of the car, the German driver concludes:
"I’m sure we can do some changes on the set-up side and understand the package better for sure, and hopefully the package brings us what we hope and brings us closer to the others. It would be nice to have a break, so you have more time to go through the data, as when you have a tripleheader everybody is very electrified trying to get everything ready for the triple-header".
At Aston Martin, Canadian driver Lance Stroll is thrilled to be racing on this track but at the same time says it will be a busy weekend:
"I am looking forward to returning to Zandvoort. The track is spectacular, and the whole event is really cool. We know it will be challenging this weekend, due to our car's tendency to race better than it qualifies and this circuit's twisty nature, which makes overtaking difficult. But there might be the chance to try something a little strategically different to our main rivals".
Four-time World Champion, Sebastian Vettel declares:
"The old-school nature of Zandvoort is so great, and it is such a fantastic driving challenge, particularly the first half of the track. I am curious to see how our car will perform here - on paper, it might be a difficult weekend for us, but we were able to race well in Hungary just before the summer break, and the circuits are quite similar. The 2022 cars can be raced better than last year's cars, so we will see if we can make some moves in the race".
At Williams, Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, argues:
"Zandvoort provides quite a different challenge to last weekend in Spa with the circuit configuration being considerably different and the tyre compounds being a step harder. The hard C1 compound was previously taken to Bahrain, Barcelona and Silverstone and could be a tricky compound this weekend. However, the Medium and Soft compounds are likely to work well. The banking and elevation changes at this track were easier to accommodate than we first feared last year, and by qualifying we had the car in a decent window. That experience should allow us to start Friday in a good position and give us opportunities to both explore the tyre behaviour thoroughly and allow to Alex to familiarise himself with the circuit. We enjoyed a good weekend in Spa. However, whilst the car performance was good at the low downforce level and Alex was able to drive a very strong defensive race, we know that we also benefited from a lot of grid penalties for our competitors. This weekend should be more difficult, but we have some momentum and confidence from Spa which will be invaluable as we take the fight to the midfield at a circuit less naturally suited to the FW44".
Alex Albon continues:
"Coming out of a successful weekend, we know Zandvoort is a very different track to Spa and we’ll need to adapt to the different requirements, with a much higher downforce and on a difficult track for overtaking. Saturday will be an important day for us and, whilst we’d like to have a repeat of Spa, that will obviously be slightly difficult. I haven’t raced at this circuit since 2015, so will work to leverage Friday and Saturday to learn the track and see what we can play for over the weekend".
Nicholas Latifi is particularly excited to be back racing at Zandvoort and concludes:
"I’m excited to get going at Zandvoort for the second round of this triple-header. Going back to Zandvoort last year was very enjoyable. It’s an old-school track and probably one of the more fun single lap qualis on the calendar. There are high-speed corners, banked corners and it’s very narrow with little room for error which makes it a track with a lot of unique characteristics. The fan atmosphere really made it something special last year and I’m sure it’ll be the same again".
In Alfa Romeo Racing, Frédéric Vasseur, the Team Principal, declares that he sees positively the landing on this circuit for this Dutch Grand Prix and is confident that the car can fight for the points:
"Closed the Spa chapter, it is time to head back to the track again this week in Zandvoort for the second part of this triple-header. Last year’s Dutch Grand Prix was one of the best events I’ve seen, the organisers put up an incredible show and I’m really looking forward to the same feeling this year. We knew Belgium would be a difficult weekend when we elected to take those power unit and gearbox penalties, and yet we looked at realistically bringing home points: the pace we showed on track is definitely a positive on which we must build. Qualifying is increasingly becoming a defining session for the whole weekend in this tight midfield: if we start in a good position, we have the speed to stay there. We have to make sure we are at the top of our performances, to get the most out of the weekend and place ourselves back where we belong: in the top ten at the chequered flag".
Valtteri Bottas, fresh from the disappointment caused by the retirement in Belgium, for the leg in Holland declares:
"A new race week gives us the opportunity to recover straight away from an unfortunate weekend in Spa. I enjoyed racing in Zandvoort last year, where I also finished on the podium. It was disappointing to end last weekend’s race after only two laps, as the pace we went on showing with Zhou was good and I was confident we could have done well: with that pace as our starting point, we have the opportunity to build a strong performance for the weekend ahead, coming back with some points. The fans here are of course very passionate, so we will make sure to put up a good show for them".
Zhou Guanyu concludes:
"We clearly wanted more from the weekend in Spa, but we were aware that taking penalties and starting from the back meant it would be a tall order to finish in the points. Despite that, our pace on track was promising, so hopefully we can keep up with it in Zandvoort. The track will be relatively new to me: I previously raced here in F3 a few years ago, so it will be important to adapt to it in a Formula 1 car as quickly as possible, to qualify in a good place on the grid and get ourselves in the mix during the race to score some points. We know we can do it but it will be a matter of executing our weekend right from start to finish".
Pierre Gasly shows satisfaction for having scored points in the Belgium GP and is confident for the weekend in Zandvoort where last season had his best weekend:
"Scoring points is good for team morale, but I had to work hard for them after a last-minute problem meant I started my 100th Grand Prix from the pitlane, so getting back into the points from there was amazing. There is more performance to get out of our car and of course we will work on that during Friday and hope for clean sessions. Apart from Baku last year, Zandvoort was my best weekend, qualifying fourth and finishing fourth in the race, ahead of both Ferraris. It was a super Grand Prix on a track layout that is very complicated, so I was really happy with the result. I like the track, it’s difficult to drive and it has plenty of challenges. It’s a bit old-school with the banking and it’s a place where you cannot make mistakes - not quite like Monaco but in the same style. There are no tarmac run off areas and if you get it wrong, you are straight in the gravel or a wall, while the corners are unusual. The cars are very different this year, but I hope that with everything we learned about the race there last season, we can have another good result, to score more points and head for the end of the triple-header in Monza on a positive note".
Yuki Tsunoda concludes:
"It was good to be racing again after the break. It was a bit of an untidy weekend and having to start from the pitlane, but on the positive side, I was generally pleased with how I drove over the three days and we had quite good pace from the car. Now we head to the Netherlands, as the middle race in the European triple-header. I’ve actually visited the track since the last race here, as I did some filming with Max, in another Red Bull challenge. I had lots of fun driving old DAF cars in reverse and it gave me a flavour of what’s to come this week with the atmosphere in the Netherlands. I had to retire from last year’s race at Zandvoort. I did enjoy the weekend up to that point, as I really like the track and the massive banking at Turn 4 for example. It’s very enjoyable and fun to drive, so I am interested to see how this year’s new cars, which are much stiffer and with their 18-inch tyres will behave here in the banked corners and over the bumps. If we can have a clean time in Zandvoort I think we can aim for points as we now have a better understanding of our car and how to get more out of it".
In the Mercedes team, Team Principal Toto Wolff takes stock of what the Belgian Grand Prix was like for them and projects himself to the Dutch Grand Prix pictured as an interesting circuit:
"Belgium was a challenging weekend for us as a Team, but those weekends are the ones that really fire you up and make you dig deeper. There were such big extremes across the weekend; from the pace differences on Saturday and Sunday, to the difficult first lap for Lewis and George's late charge for a podium. We've been working hard to understand our Spa struggles and thankfully we don't have long to wait until we can bring utilise and maximise those learnings. What will make the difference for the rest of this season is how quickly and effectively we can continue learning, to deliver our best performance this year and next. The Dutch Grand Prix is next, and it was a real party atmosphere last year. It's an interesting, old-school track with sweeping bends, banked corners and a lot of character. So, we're excited to be back there and to take on the circuit's challenges with this year's car".
Alpine’s Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer outlines the goal for his team for the Dutch Grand Prix to be in the mix of points and take home good points to extend the lead in the fight for fourth place in the Constructors Championship:
"Last year, the Dutch Grand Prix was a highlight of the season, as it brought something a little bit different to the calendar. Above all, it’s a great race for the fans, who create a fantastic atmosphere and that only makes racing even more enjoyable. It will be interesting to see how the event has improved since last year. The on-track racing was great last season with overtaking possible around the lap. Our target is to be in the mix for points again and aim to have a similar, if not better, result than we did last weekend in Belgium and extend our lead in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship. There’s a long way to go in the season but being consistently strong is at the top of our priority list".
Esteban Ocon continues:
"It’s great to come back to such a historical circuit like Zandvoort. Of course, the sport made a comeback to The Netherlands last year and I also raced there in DTM in 2016 so I know the circuit and enjoy driving it for sure. The contrast between Zandvoort and Spa is huge. We go from long and flowing laps to a much shorter and very twisty track. It’s a cool circuit, really undulating, fast and flowing which requires a huge amount of focus and commitment. The setting is also pretty spectacular, being right on the beach, and it is also very close to Amsterdam which is always a cool and vibrant city to visit. And the fans really put on a great show, the atmosphere all weekend is electric".
Fernando Alonso concludes:
"Zandvoort is a fun place to visit. We have only been there once before, but it’s now obviously much bigger thanks in part to the rise of Max [Verstappen]. The whole atmosphere and buzz from the Dutch fans reminds me a little of the early 2000s when the Spanish fans really fell in love with the sport. The atmosphere is really great and I’m sure we will experience the same thing again this weekend. It’s a double header but we are excited to get back in the car especially after the team’s performance in Spa also with the fastest pit stop".
Finally, at Ferrari, Marco Adurno, Head of vehicle performance, explains his passion for motorsport and how he managed to get to Ferrari:
"My passion dates back to when I was a child, when I watched Formula 1 in my father’s arms and dreamed of one day being part of this world. It remained a dream until 2007, when I got the opportunity to join an English team, which set me on the path to fulfilling my desire to join Scuderia Ferrari, which I did in 2019".
On the characteristics of the Zandvoort track, Adurno declares:
"his track now has a completely different layout to that used in the Eighties, when the Grand Prix was a fixture on the calendar (up until 1985). Now it features a long sequence of medium and high speed corners that are very demanding for both car and driver. Steep banking of some corners is a unique feature with T3 and T14 banked to no less than 16 degrees".
The circuit is very heavy on the tires and regarding this aspect, he argues:
"The characteristics of the track mean it is very hard on the tyres, especially the front ones. The key for qualifying is to run with high levels of aerodynamic balance in the medium and high speed corners, without compromising car stability. When it comes to the race, you are then looking for the right mix between a set-up that is kind on tyres, but still allows the drivers to use them the way he wants".
Spanish driver Carlos Sainz is happy to be back on track immediately after the Belgian Grand Prix and hopes to be able to get closer to his rivals with his car:
"After the race at Spa-Francorchamps it’s great to have the chance to get straight back onto the track here in the Netherlands. This is a circuit with totally different characteristics and I expect that we will be back to being much closer to our main rivals from this year. We shouldn’t forget that for 13 races out of 14 we have been competitive and I can’t imagine that we will see at Zandvoort a similar performance gap to the one from Belgium. When you are at Ferrari everything is amplified: the affection of the tifosi when you win and their disappointment when you don’t succeed. It’s the same for the criticisms of the people watching, because I can assure you that we are making fewer mistakes than others but we are always in the spotlight. When you are at Ferrari it’s like this, and we know it. But we must never forget the jump in performance that we have made compared to last year. We have come back to fighting for victories and we want to continue to improve, pushing all the way to the end of the season".
The other Ferrari driver, the Monegasque Charles Leclerc, analyzes the characteristics of the Zandvoort track and hopes to be able to return to his level of competitiveness with the car, also focusing on the next weekend that includes the team’s Grand Prix:
"The Zandvoort track favours higher downforce so I think we will return to our usual level of competitiveness. Everyone in the team has a big desire to do well and it’s also Carlos’ birthday so it would be great to celebrate that with a one-two - albeit with me ahead of him… We haven’t yet finished analysing all the data we collected but if nothing else we have some interesting pointers, not least because the next race will be at Monza where it’s crucial for us to do well given that it’s our home race. We have a good relationship with Max, there’s lots of respect, so I don’t expect to be booed - even if my target will be to ruin the party both for him and his fans… It’s clear that if they are wearing orange they aren’t here to cheer for Ferrari, but fair enough! Next week at Monza I expect that most of the spectators will be wearing red and supporting us".
On Friday, the teams are ready for the two sessions of free practice, with warmer weather conditions than those of last week in Belgium, an air temperature of 21 degrees Celsius and a track temperature of 29 °C. The first free practice sees George Russell set the fastest lap in 1'12"455 with his teammate Lewis Hamilton in second place just 0.240 seconds behind. Carlos Sainz manages to put his Ferrari in third place in 1'12"845, more than 3 seconds behind Russel, while the Monegasque Charles Leclerc in the other Ferrari struggles a little bit and finishes just sixth in 1'13"127. McLaren has a positive day, putting both car in top five, with Lando Norris (1'12"929) fourth ahead of the “honey badger” Daniel Ricciardo (1'13"077). Championship leader Max Verstappen, who triumphed in Zandvoort last year, completes only seven laps and then stops the car due to a gearbox issue causing a red flag at the beginning of the practice. His Mexican teammate has a struggling session, running wild at turn 9, almost hitting the wall and finishing seventh behind Leclerc. The two Alpine and Alexander Albon’s William close the top ten. At the end of Friday's FP1, Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz Jr. are summoned by the stewards as the British Mercedes driver has obstructed the Spanish Ferrari driver at Turn 12 and Turn 13; Hamilton does not receive penalties. Sebastian Vettel and Lando Norris are summoned as the German driver has obstructed the British McLaren driver at the same two corners; neither Vettel receives penalties. In the early afternoon, before the start of the FP2, McLaren announces what has been rumbling for some time: the Australian talent Oscar Piastri will join the British team for the 2023 Fia Formula 1 Championship in place of Daniel Ricciardo. He signed a multi-year contract. McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says:
“We are super happy to have Oscar with us alongside Lando, super exciting. In terms of personality, he's a perfect fit into our team. We wanted to have him on board and he wanted to be with us, so we are very happy. We are absolutely convinced about his talent and potential. He's young, full of energy and the right amount of self-confidence. Regarding the decision with Daniel, I think we have everything said last week and I have nothing to add. We want to finish the season on a high with Daniel and we are committed to that, I'm far away from putting any blame on Daniel that we are not in P4 at the moment, we need to give a quicker car to the guys. We believe in Oscar, we have Lando on board that has shown he's one of the best in the paddock".
Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, states:
"Oscar is one of talents coming through the feeder series into F1 and we are delighted to see him join the team for 2023. Oscar is an exciting addition to the McLaren family, and we look forward to seeing him grow with our F1 team".
The young Aussie is more than excited to make his Formula 1 debut next year:
"I’m extremely excited to be making my F1 debut with such a prestigious team as McLaren and I’m very grateful for the opportunity that’s been offered to me. The team has a long tradition of giving young talent a chance, and I’m looking forward to working hard alongside Lando to push the team towards the front of the grid. I’m focused on preparing for my F1 debut in 2023 and starting my F1 career in papaya".
The sun is shining in Zandvoort, as the temperatures steadily increase, ahead of the second practice of the day which starts at 4.15 p.m. local time, as a consequence of a late red flag in FIA Formula 2: the marshals needed to recover Daruvala's car and get rid of any remain gravel. The crowd here to support Max Verstappen was really disappointed in FP1, when their idol stopped out on track with a gearbox issue, but the good news is that the team have fixed his car in time for FP2. At the end of the session it’s a Ferrari 1-2: Leclerc is on top with a time of 1'12"345 and Sainz just 0.004s behind. Ferrari seem to be again competitive as they showed a good race pace. In third place Hamilton sets a time of 1'12"417, while Russell (1'12"41), the fastest in the morning, is only fifth, preceded by Norris in fourth position. Verstappen, after the morning issues, makes just one quick attempt on used tyres and takes the eighth place in 1'13"042, while Perez, who is still struggling in his Red Bull, ends up only P12, penalized by severe understeer. Daniel Ricciardo, with an oil leak on his McLaren's radiator in the latter stages of the session, rounds out the top 10, just ahead of 11th placed Yuki Tsunoda, who brings out the red flags in within 12 minutes to go after beaching his AlphaTauri in the gravel at the exit of Turn 10. At the end of the day the Japanese driver states:
"I think we’ve had an ok day, up until that last stint in FP2. I was struggling with a lack of grip during my long run in FP2 and then unfortunately, I hit a gust of wind and lost the car, going into the gravel trap. Overall, I’ve not felt that comfortable with the car today, but we’ve gained a lot of good data across both sessions, so we’ll go away tonight and look at this to try and put it altogether for tomorrow".
His teammate Pierre Gasly is not fully satisfied about the performance of his car:
"It’s not been a great day for me really, I’ve not felt that happy with the car in either session. We also had to make some changes to the car at the start of FP2, which unfortunately cost us quite a lot of track time. So far, it’s been quite challenging, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us tonight and tomorrow, but I’m sure we’ll find some solutions and feel more confident heading into Quali".
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer for Scuderia AlphaTauri, declares:
"Coming to Zandvoort, the circuit characteristics are very different compared to the last race in Spa. So, we go from the lowest downforce run this season to the highest. The track always starts quite green here, especially with the sand on track, so putting the drivers out on the Hards for the first run was challenging for them, particularly with the mild temperatures. We struggled to make that tyre work well so shifted focus quickly to the Mediums, however we were still lacking overall grip. Therefore, we made big changes to the setup of both cars for FP2. Unfortunately, we lost some time on Pierre’s car with one of the changes, so he lost the first part of the session, but across the two cars we managed to gather good short-run data to piece together the best bits of each setup for tomorrow. During the long run, Yuki lost the car when he was hit by a sudden gust of wind whilst on power in the exit of T10, so sadly he beached it and that was the end of our session. Yuki was able to put in a competitive lap on the Soft tyre, which is positive, but generally for the team the performance was not aligned with our expectation, so we have a lot of work ahead of us tonight".
After a good day for Alpine, Matt Harman, Technical Director, says:
"Today was a trouble-free day of practice and we completed everything we intended to do with both cars. We’ve brought a couple of small upgrades here, which performed in line with our pre-race simulations, and that’s brought a bit of extra performance. It’s fantastic that we continue to bring upgrades to every race and there’s more to come at the next couple of races as well. We’re looking forward to the rest of the weekend in Zandvoort - there have been no surprises so far - and we’re happy with our work. This weekend, we aim to continue our momentum in the Constructors’ Championship relative to our main on-track rivals".
Esteban Ocon adds:
"It’s good to be back in Zandvoort at a track I enjoy driving at with its unique undulation and layout. Our Friday ended with both cars in the top ten in both practice sessions and that’s a decent start to our weekend. Tonight we’ll need to look at and try to find the areas where we can improve. We’ll also approach tomorrow with good understanding on how the tyres are behaving, especially since we have tested the hardest compound today and it’s not something we usually do on Fridays. There’s plenty of work to do with the team to be ready for an all-important qualifying session tomorrow".
Fernando Alonso declares:
"It was a decent Friday for us. It is a very different circuit to what we experienced last weekend in Spa. It’s a fun place to drive Formula 1 cars around, it’s like a rollercoaster with all of the bumps. The car feels good so far and I think we’ve seen a lot of track evolution today as it was quite dusty across the circuit this morning. We’re going to evaluate everything now, but we are pleased with our progress so far".
The two Aston Martin drivers have different feelings about the car during the two free practice sessions, with Lance stroll ahead of his German teammate in both sessions. The Canadian driver states:
"We had a strong day today around a track I really like. This place is quite different to Spa - which is much faster - and we were strong there as well during Friday practice. It is a case of having to wait and see whether we can carry this momentum into qualifying tomorrow. If we can maintain our strong progress, then we should be in a good position to fight for points in the race".
Sebastian Vettel adds:
"It was a bit of a tricky day for us today. FP1 was pretty busy, and there was plenty of traffic, but I never really felt on top of the car in either session. Looking at the times, I think our long-run pace looks pretty good, but we still need to focus on our single-lap pace. I am not really happy with today’s result - I think there is more pace in the car that we can find - but hopefully we can take a step forward overnight and hit the ground running in FP3".
Mercedes seems to have finally find competitiveness again and both drivers have the right feeling with the cars. The seventh times World Champions Lewis Hamilton says:
"This is a lot better than my Sunday last week and better than the Friday too. It's been a decent start to the weekend, we've landed in a much sweeter sport with the car, just being a very different track. It's still a work in progress, we aren't that far behind which is great to see and the car doesn't feel too bad so we've got to keep chipping away. This track is a lot more aggressive on the tyres and we could feel some bouncing here and there but if we can make some progress overnight, which we normally do, then let's see what's possible tomorrow".
George Russell is hopeful for the quali:
"The car's working better than this time last week and it's going to be close tomorrow, McLaren will be up there and Aston Martin too. We know qualifying is our weak point and the race will come towards us - our race pace is looking strong - but you've got to be starting in the right position. It was tricky out there because the timing screens were down so we couldn't see where our long run pace was definitively but we know it's in a relatively good spot. We're closer on Friday than we've been in a while so that's promising for tomorrow. The DRS on the banking is pretty cool, it's incredible how much grip you get with this banking and on turn 3 here, you throw the car in and it just grips - it's a great feeling".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ race engineer, seems positive about the car's performance:
"The car has been a lot easier to balance here than in Spa and we look to be in a better place in terms of pace; we're still missing a bit on single lap and long run but the gaps are a lot better than last week. The sessions were a bit messy with a few red flags but we managed to tick off our test items and have a decent idea where we are going with the car spec for tomorrow. Neither driver has the balance where they want it yet and both felt the car was a little easier to drive in the morning. In the afternoon, we were understeering in some places and lacking stability in others. Not major issues but ones we are going to need to put right overnight if we plan on giving Red Bull and Ferrari any trouble tomorrow".
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance at William’s Racing states:
"It has been a slightly challenging day in Zandvoort with both drivers struggling to find a comfortable balance. The track grip was low today and didn’t improve as quickly as we hoped. The tyres have also been tricky to manage as they get very little rest during a lap here, especially the front left. We have got some useful low fuel data from today, but we are going to need to study this hard overnight to help guide the setup changes for tomorrow. We would’ve liked to have got some more high fuel running done but red flags prevented this, which makes the race strategy a little difficult to judge at this stage. We will need to be flexible and agile on Sunday, but we are confident that this style of racing suits us".
Alex Albon, who put his Williams in top ten during the first free practice, declares:
"Whilst it wasn’t great today, it felt okay out there, despite being quite windy with a high downforce circuit. The cars that are quick is opposite to last weekend, so it’s really different in terms of requirements for us. Ultimately, the track is just not suiting us today so it’s not easy, however I think we know where we need to improve so it’s all about trying to get it done for tomorrow, knowing how important qualifying is. Hopefully we can make some changes that will improve our overall pace across the weekend, so that’s the goal".
Rough day for teammate Nicholas Latifi:
"Today was a really tough day for the team and especially for me. Obviously FP1 is difficult to judge as the track is completely different going into the weekend. It’s very windy out there and some corners are more affected than others. All in all, I struggled with a lot of different things and need to work on finding the right rhythm with driving and balancing the car. This is a track that requires a lot of commitment and you need to feel everything so I have a lot of homework to do tonight so that I can push the car more confidently the rest of the weekend".
After a great day for McLaren, both drivers seem to have find the right confidence with the car. Lando Norris affirms that there are positive things about the practice:
"A reasonable day. I think with the different type of track we’re a little bit more back in line with where we’ve been in general - closer to the front, back in the midfield pack. There are some positives. The car is handling reasonably well both in low fuel and high fuel. I think we’re in an okay position. It’s still close, both in front of us and behind us but if we can squeeze a bit more out of the car overnight, into qualifying tomorrow, then we can give ourselves a good chance of scoring decent points on Sunday".
Daniel Ricciardo adds:
"It was nice to be back on the track, it’s a good time for sure. It was fun. Unfortunately, we lost a bit of track time due to an oil leak in FP2, however looking at Lando’s pace, it was promising. We made a few changes for FP2 and it looks like that’s worked, so we’ll have confidence going in that direction overnight. It’s just a case of putting the lap together, which I’m confident of tomorrow. All in all, I think it was a good day for the team and we’ll just clean it up tonight".
Andrea Stella, Executive Director, concludes:
"Overall, we had a productive day. There were a few issues, most notably a radiator problem for Daniel which cut short his FP2 and, as a result, he missed the high-fuel run at the end of the session. That aside, the day went well. We have progressed our understanding of the tyres and set-up direction, and we seem to be in a better place than we were last weekend at Spa. We’re looking forward to Qualifying and the Race - but still have plenty of work to do overnight in order to be as competitive as we can be".
Quite disappointing Friday for Alfa Romeo; Valtteri Bottas finishes P18 in both free practice sessions:
"We got some clean running, which is always a positive, but it was quite a tricky day. It was quite windy and this may have contributed to making the balance of the car feels a bit inconsistent: whatever the cause is, we have to figure out how to improve tonight so to find a bit more for qualifying. Grid position will be important on this tight track and I expect everyone’s setup to be a bit skewed towards single-lap performance: in the end, the challenge is the same for everyone so we’ll see how tomorrow goes".
Zhou Guanyu remains more positive:
"Of course, today was quite a change from the last time I raced here; the track layout back then, for starters, was the old school one, while now there’s a lot of banking, and it’s overall different driving on it in a Formula One car. In terms of learning the track, I think today was a really smooth day: we didn’t have any issues and, while we still haven’t got the best balance for the car yet, we will make sure to find it ahead of tomorrow. Zandvoort is a high-downforce track, and it’s always quite dirty due to the gravel and being next to the beach. Once again it will be super tight in the midfield, but we’re still there: we just need to find a few tenths ahead of qualifying and we’ll be through".
Another interesting day for Ferrari, on a track that should suit the car better than Spa on last weekend. Despite this, Charles Leclerc doesn't seem to have find the right balance with the car:
"We picked up the pace a little in FP2, but we were not quite there with the car balance on my side. There’s some work ahead of us and I’m confident we can make a step forward by tomorrow. We were all very close apart from Max and Checo, but I don’t think they had a clean day so it will be interesting".
Carlos Sainz is more satisfied by the car performance:
"Overall it was a good Friday here in Zandvoort. It was great to be back at such a demanding and challenging track for drivers and cars, so I enjoyed it a lot. Performance-wise, it was a clean Friday and we completed the run plan without any issues, both for the long and short runs. It seems to be tight with our closest rivals, so any performance we can find overnight will definitely help us going into qualifying".
After a struggling day for Red Bull, home hero Max Verstappen says:
"We missed out on valuable time in FP1 and then the balance wasn’t great in FP2. In an hour-long session you can’t really change much on the car, so we just had to deal with what we had. Today wasn’t great but we’ll have a look at everything overnight, for sure we can do better than this. I wasn’t surprised when I saw the time difference, there are a lot of things that we can improve on, we’ve got FP3 tomorrow morning to try out a few things ahead of qualifying".
Sergio Perez conludes:
"Things are very marginal and Ferrari seem to be very strong around this circuit so, as I predicted, it is going to be an interesting weekend. It is a pretty challenging track and I think we are lacking speed throughout at the moment, we haven’t been quick in any of the sectors, so there is analysis to be done. We haven’t been as happy as we were in Belgium so there are things we need to look at to make sure we pick up on everything to be in the mix for quali. I got a lot of traffic today, I got one of the Ferraris on my fast lap and I couldn’t get a proper read on my soft tyre unfortunately, without causing an incident. Degradation seems to be pretty high on the long runs so it will be interesting to see what we are able to do with the strategy. We certainly need to improve for qualifying tomorrow".
Guenther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal, sums up Friday’s performance:
"Maybe a slightly more positive Friday than we had last weekend. FP1 was productive for both Kevin and Mick with lots of laps - good for Kevin especially given it’s his first time driving a Formula 1 car around Zandvoort. Our times were more competitive on the soft tires which was inline with our expectations coming here. We didn’t quite replicate that form in FP2 later in the day, at least not with both cars, but we got to complete our run through of all the tire compounds by running the mediums before our quali sims. Work to do based on what we’ve learned, as always, but we’re on a solid footing heading into Saturday".
Kevin Magnusses declares:
"It was great. It’s a really cool track and it’s really challenging as well, so it’s nice that we go to places like Zandvoort where you really feel exhilarated, and that’s certainly the case. I’m looking forward to getting some more laps in tomorrow, I’ll sleep on the laps I got today, and get more out of it tomorrow".
Mick Schumacher, who finished ahead of his danish teammate in both free practice sessions, adds:
"I’d call it a clean day. The car felt good from the get-go, and it was definitely nicer to drive compared to Spa plus it’s a bit more competitive which is nice. I love coming here, it’s such a pure, old school racing track and you really have to drive the car around here, instead of the car driving you around. It’s definitely a good, fun place to drive a lap but maybe in the race it’s going to be a bit more tough as overtaking is still a bit difficult it seems, but for sure we’ll have a lot of action compared to last year".
Simone Berra, Pirelli Chief Engineer concludes:
"The performance of all three compounds was in line with expectations today, with the gap between the hard and the medium actually a little lower than we had estimated, which is one of the reasons why we believe that the hard could be a valid race tyre too, with a number of different strategies possible. Degradation seems manageable, even on the soft tyre, and we saw no graining of any description. Track evolution was quite high today, with a sandy track initially, and there were gusting winds, which affected the balance of the cars. One talking point today was the ‘glued gravel’ on the outside of Turns 11 and 12: this seemed to work well and we saw no negative effects on the tyres".
The Dutch Saturday starts with the same kind of news that everyone expects after the events of Friday: during the night in fact the seals of the gearbox have been broken once again on Max Verstappen’s car. This immediately raises questions about the possible reliability problems related to the Red Bull of the reigning World Champion, as well as possible penalties he may incur. The Team Principal of the Milton Keys team, however, immediately reassures all fans and silences every voice, stating:
"We checked that everything was ok. We have enough elements to avoid penalty".
It is confirmed to everyone that Verstappen will actually be regularly on track, despite the problems encountered during the previous morning, so the green flag is waved and the third and final session of free practice on the Dutch circuit begins. The sky is clear and the climate is dry, despite some clouds occasionally peeping out, with the air temperature is around 23 °C and the asphalt around 29 °C.Verstappen’s team mate, Sergio Perez, is the first to take to the track and sets the tone for his morning work with a soft tyre. For a few minutes the Mexican driver is the only one on track and to have a timed lap, turning in 1'13'792. Next few others come down on the track with him, and the few who use different compounds: Vettel and Stroll start the round with only one lap on the average tire, while the duo of Alphatauri, composed of Gasly and Tsunoda, opts for a set of hard tires. Despite this, Perez remains the only one to run regularly on the track, also managing to file his time with a 1'13"603. Ten minutes into the session, Perez is the only one still on track, and seems to have set his work with the aim of fixing the balance and tyre problems he has encountered during the second session of the previous day. However, his wishes do not seem to be fulfilled, as the Mexican opens on the radio with his team, complaining that this session is even worse than the previous time. He continues and after a few minutes he is joined on track by his team-mate, the duo Ferrari Leclerc-Sainz and George Russell. Verstappen already from the first lap sets the fastest time so far in the morning, turning in 1'12"309 and placing himself in front of everyone on the scoreboard. It is Verstappen who kicks off the real action on track, since immediately after him Sainz places third, with a gap of 1 second, with a time of 1'13"319, but he is immediately relegated in the fifth place after Russell places second and Schumacher gets into third position, with a gap from the Dutch of +994s. Meanwhile, Perez managed to improve only a little, reaching +1.400s from his teammate. Twenty minutes have passed since the start of the session when Sainz is back to his previous position, finishing second with 1'12"917. Then his team mate tries his hand in his first lap, taking the second position from the Spaniard, with a time of 1'12"720. The third place of Sainz is immediately taken away by Lewis Hamilton, only Mercedes driver on track. Almost half an hour to the end of the session, the complete ranking sees Verstappen in the lead, with 1'12"196, behind him at +0.524s is Leclerc, with a time of 1'12"720, and in third place Hamilton, distant only +0.103s from the Monegasque driver and +0.627s from the Dutch driver.
Next, all with soft rubber, Sainz, Russell, Stroll, Schumacher, Vettel, Perez and Magnussen to close the top 10. The only drivers on the track not to have mounted the softest compound remain only the two Mclarens and Esteban Ocon. While Sergio Perez continues to experience oversteer problems on his single-seater, Fernando Alonso tries the approach with medium tyres, managing to improve his best time and passing from 14th to 11th position. The top three of the standings remains unchanged for some laps, with Verstappen continuing to be untouched in his fastest lap, so much so that Mattia Binotto, Ferrari’s Team Principal, unbalances himself, asserting the incredible speed of the Dutch driver on his home circuit. Alexander Albon takes the third position, scoring a 1'12"725 with red rubber. Sainz gives the session a twist and sets the fastest lap so far in 1'11"971, putting Verstappen in second place. Meanwhile Charles Leclerc returns to the pits, where the mechanics begin to work on his single-seater, away from prying eyes, also thanks to the wall of men dressed in red that screens the view of the machine disassembled. Almost five minutes after his return to the pits, Leclerc is back on track, scoring first the best first sector and finishing the lap with the best time in 1'11"632. Just seconds after he finished his lap, Russell set his best time, 1'11"698, just 66 thousandths from Leclerc. The provisional ranking at this point changes, with first Leclerc, followed with very little distance from Russell and then Sainz with +0.339s delay. After them Verstappen, who has not yet made his second attempt, Alonso, Vettel, Stroll, Albon, Hamilton and Schumacher to close the top 10. Perez is only twelfth, as he is still experiencing serious problems with his car. Ten minutes before the end of the session Verstappen tries the fast lap, managing to improve his personal time but without being able to scratch the first time of Leclerc, closing the lap in third place, with a break of +0.205s in 1'11"837. With 7 minutes left to go and Sergio Perez manages to improve his performance, climbing to sixth position with a 1'12"176, thus mending the gap with his teammate, which is now 0.400s. The session ends with Leclerc still in the lead, followed by Russell, Verstappen, Sainz, Hamilton, perez, Alonso, Vettel, Schumacher and Norris in P10, who managed to improve, reaching +0.959s from Leclerc. The third free practice session of the home Grand Prix of reigning World Champion Max Verstappen ends in the Dutch morning, despite a disappointing third place in FP3, he says to be calm and ready for the qualifying session:
"Satisfied so far? It went better, we’re a bit behind. In the race you never know. Pole? We’ll try".
In the Dutch afternoon, with a temperature of 26 degrees of air and 39 of asphalt, the green flag officially starts Q1, the first moment of qualifying that will mark the 15 drivers who will pass in Q2. Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher are the first to take to the track and the Dane takes the lead immediately, scoring a 1'12"680. Along with them there are eight other drivers on track, including Albon marking the third time, just behind Schumacher, and Guanyu Zhou, who five minutes from the start of Q1 marks the best time in 1'12"641. Immediately after, the Ferrari drivers, the Mercedes duo and both Red Bull drivers, the latter welcomed by a joyful roar from the orange tide.
Max Verstappen immediately takes the lead on the first lap, setting a time of 1'11"317. Ferrari’s first attempt is less striking, with Sainz second at +0.450s from Verstappen and Leclerc fourth, with +0.8 tenths behind the Dutchman. These positions, however, are immediately affected by the fast lap of the Mercedes duo, which allows Russell to reach the second place, +0.244s from the leader, and Hamilton immediately behind in third position. Following, Sainz, Norris, who is the protagonist and under investigation of a unsafe release in pit lane with Yuki Tsunoda, and Leclerc. The second attempt of the Monegasque driver gives good results, allowing him to score a 1'11"443 and to climb up to the second position, just 126 thousandths from Max Verstappen; as for the rest of the standings, four minutes before the end of the round, Vettel, Ricciardo, Albon, Schumacher and Latifi were eliminated. Everyone gets on track for the last moments of the session except for Leclerc and Verstappen. Russell, Hamilton, Alonso and Sainz are on used tyres, while the drivers at risk, plus Perez, decide to mount a new soft compound and make one last attempt: In particular, Sebastian Vettel launches into an encouraging lap, before arriving long in Turn 13 and playing every last chance to fall into the 15th position and classify for Q2. Aston Martin’s German driver says he is bitter about the result:
"On my final Q1 lap I picked up some sand on my left-side wheels on the entry to Turn 13. At that point, you are really focused on the apex kerb on the right - I was not trying anything fancy - and I just drifted off-line and lost the car. I guess you could say that I got caught out by the zand in Zandvoort. My pace up until that point had looked very good - that last lap was easily good enough for Q2 - and I think we could probably have got to Q3, too. It is a shame, and it makes things harder for tomorrow because we will basically start last. We will see if we can find a smart strategy solution - but it is probably going to be a long afternoon".
Along with him Bottas, Magnussen, Ricciardo, Vettel and Latifi have been excluded. Verstappen, Hamilton, Tsunoda, Leclerc, Norris, Russell, Stroll, Perez, Alonso, Albon, Gasly, Schumacher, Ocon, Sainz, Zhou qualified for Q2. At 3:25 p.m. the Q2 starts. Alexander Albon goes on track first, using soft tires, but a few minutes after his entry into the track is waved red flag, because of an orange smoke bomb that has been thrown in the middle of the track and forces the race direction to suspend all activities, waiting for the Marshall to recover it. Meanwhile, during the return lap of Albon, the latter stumbles into a small group of pigeons dangerously perched at the edge of the track, which are grazed by the single-seater of the Thai driver and then chased and hunted by professionals on the track. A few minutes later the green flag is waved again and the session can resume, although for the first few minutes no driver gets off the track. In fact, only Verstappen, Perez and Albon come out of the pits and run with soft tires, while all the others do not mention preparing to start the round. The first timed lap is signed by Verstappen himself, with a remarkable time of 1'10"927 recorded with the same tyres used in the attempt in Q1. Behind him comes Perez at 387 thousandths and Albon behind. After them all the other drivers start to take to the track, and despite the new red tyre, the Mercedes duo can not beat Verstappen’s time, with Hamilton second at 148 thousandths and Russell behind Perez in fourth. The Ferrari duo also takes to the track with a set of used soft tires, but they do not get the same results as the home driver: Leclerc is eighth, with a gap of 8 tenths, and Sainz is seventh, with a delay of 6 tenths.
Five minutes before the end of the round all drivers are back in the pits, waiting to make a last attempt with new tire. Verstappen is considering the option of preserving a set of new tires for the race and not attempt another lap launched, keeping the first attempt as a valid time to pass the cut (as already happened at Spa). Currently excluded are Gasly, Ocon, Zhou, Tsunoda and Schumacher, while Albon is the first to attempt the lap with new rubber, improving his personal time but failing to get over the tenth position. The times improve as the drivers crossed the finish line and the session ends with the best time signed by Carlos Sainz in 1'10"814, with Russell at just 10 thousandths. The complete ranking of those entering Q3 sees, in order, Sainz, Russell, Verstappen (who does not make the second attempt), Leclerc, Hamilton, Norris, Perez, Stroll, Schumacher and Tsunoda, excluding Gasly, Ocon, Alonso, Zhou and Albon. Once Q2 closes, Q3 starts and immediately on track are Verstappen, Perez, Norris, Schumacher and Tsunoda; everyone is using used soft tires except for Verstappen, who uses the train saved in Q2. It is the Dutchman who immediately takes the best performance in 1'10"515, also marking the fastest lap of the weekend so far. Together with the rest of the drivers, Hamilton, Leclerc and Russell also take to the track, the first two with new tyres, while Russell with the used one. Leclerc manages to beat Verstappen’s time on equal rubber, scoring a 1'10"456, followed by the Dutchman and Hamilton, with Sainz, Perez and Russell behind. Just a few minutes after qualifying ends, a technical problem on Lance Stroll’s car prevents him from completing the round and forces him to remain in tenth position, a frustrating situation. Aston Martin’s Team Principal Mike Krack expresses on the qualification of the two drivers:
"Sebastian was on a quick lap in Q1 when he arrived at Turn 13 to find the racing line coated with dust kicked up by the car that had run wide just ahead of him. As a result, he too ran wide and lost the lap. That is racing, but it is frustrating all the same. Lance was also really on it in Q1 - a strong P7 - and again in Q2 despite locking up at Turn One at the start of his second fast lap - a fine P8 - then in Q3 we suffered a lack of hydraulic pressure which prevented him from being Able to go out again. All in all, it was a frustrating session but both our drivers showed very good pace and will therefore approach tomorrow’s race with controlled ambition".
The Canadian driver, during the interviews, confesses to be sad for the missed opportunity:
"It is a shame that we had the hydraulic issue in Q3 because we had the pace for a top-eight result today - and that would have been great given our recent difficulties in qualifying. The car was really fun to drive today - the team have done a fantastic job with the set-up and balance - so it is great to see everyone being rewarded for their efforts. This starting position should give us a good chance to score some decent points in the Grand Prix tomorrow".
While Aston Martin ends the session prematurely, all the other drivers relaunch with new soft tires two minutes before the end of the round. In Q3 Verstappen gets 1'10"515, leaving Pérez 0.562 seconds behind. Norris, third, is 1.635 seconds behind. At this stage the Mercedes confirm the speed of the previous sessions: Russell is third, while Hamilton is second, one tenth behind the world champion's time. The one who beats the Dutchman is Leclerc (1'10"456), although the Ferrarista used a set of new tires, unlike the Red Bull Racing driver. Sainz Jr. is fourth. He fails to take part in Q3, due to a technical problem with his Aston Martin, Stroll. Again a smoke bomb lands on the track, near the acceleration lane but, this time, the session is not interrupted, as it is soon rendered harmless. With his second attempt, Leclerc improves his performance in the first sector, with Verstappen 0.03 seconds behind. The Monegasque is slower in the second sector, but thanks to an excellent last sector, he files his time (1'10"363). However, the time is not enough for pole position; Verstappen is able to prevail by 0.021 seconds. Sainz Jr. also improves, third, while Pérez loses control of his car at the last corner, spinning out. The display of yellow flags forces the Mercedes drivers to slow down, not allowing them to compete for the front row. The final standings see Verstappen on pole, followed by Leclerc, Sainz, Hamilton, Perez, Russell, Norris, Schumacher, Tsunoda and Stroll. Max Verstappen takes his 17th career pole position, equaling the number of those achieved by Jackie Stewart, his fourth front-running start of the season for the first time since the Austrian Grand Prix, and equals, with his second consecutive pole start at the Zandvoort circuit, the qualifying performance of the previous edition of the race. For the second consecutive year since the Dutch Grand Prix returned to the Formula 1 World Championship calendar at the Zandvoort circuit in 2021, a local driver is the author of the pole position in his home country. For the world champion it is the 38th front row, equaling Alonso and Jack Brabham's 17th all-time.
Red Bull Racing, in its fifth pole position of the championship, again takes the top spot in the Dutch Grand Prix, the second in total in its history at the Dutch circuit, with the engines pushed under the different name Red Bull Powertrains, after being propelled by Honda powertrains in the 2021 edition. Leclerc, second, shares the front row with the Dutch driver for the seventh time this season. For the Monegasque, it is the 21st career front row, the 11th in this championship, at a career-best finish this season, equaling Clay Regazzoni and John Surtees at 41st all-time. Ferrari, thanks to Leclerc's position, gets the front row at the Dutch circuit for the first time since the 1983 edition with Patrick Tambay. Sainz Jr. starts third for the sixth time this championship, while Hamilton, fourth, has yet to get a start in the top three positions this season. The Italian manufacturer has not placed two cars in the top three on the grid at Zandvoort since the 1975 edition, with then the front row completed by Niki Lauda and Regazzoni. With Russell's sixth position, Hamilton is now ahead in the direct comparison with his teammate in qualifying, 8-7, while with Pérez's fifth position, Verstappen wins the direct comparison in this session for this season with 12-3. Norris starts seventh for the first time this season, having finished in this position in three of the last four races held. For Schumacher, eighth place is the second best qualifying result of the year, following a sixth-place finish in the Canadian Grand Prix. For the German, it was the fourth Q3 of the season. Tsunoda made it past the Q1 cut for the first time in three races, while Stroll, tenth, qualified for Q3 for the first time since the Miami Grand Prix 10 races ago, the longest interval for any driver on the grid at the time. The Canadian has finished 10th on four occasions this season, never finishing higher. Gasly, 11th, fails to reach Q3 for the seventh consecutive race, while Ocon, 12th, who has been in Q3 five times in the last four races, is eliminated in Q2. Both Alpine, with Alonso's 13th position, are not qualified for the last stage of the session for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix, despite being the third-fastest team in the best lap time in the previous Belgian Grand Prix. Ocon qualified ahead of Alonso for the third consecutive race. Bottas, 16th, is eliminated in Q1 for the second consecutive race, after 148 consecutive progressions from the first stage starting in the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix.
Magnussen, seventeenth, is eliminated in Q1 and is beaten by teammate Schumacher for the second race in a row. Ricciardo, eighteenth, is eliminated in Q1 in the third race of the year, while Vettel, nineteenth, is eliminated at the same stage for the second consecutive race, after a mistake at the same corner where he was behind both Haas, as in 2021. The Aston Martin German is eliminated in Q1 for the sixth time in the last six races. Latifi, 20th and last, was the slowest driver in Q1 for the third time in the last four Grands Prix. The gap between the author of the pole position, Verstappen, and the second, Leclerc, is the lowest in the championship, at 0"021, while it is 0"092 the gap that includes the top three finishers, the Dutch world champion, the Monegasque and his teammate, Spaniard Sainz Jr. Al termine delle qualifiche, Lando Norris e Yuki Tsunoda vengono convocati dai commissari sportivi per una situazione di pericolo in pit lane nel quale il pilota britannico è stato fatto uscire dai box al sopraggiungere di quello giapponese, durante la Q1. La McLaren viene multata di 5.000 euro da parte della Federazione. L'Alfa Romeo e la Williams sono state multate rispettivamente di 600 e di 500 euro dall'organo mondiale dell'automobilismo in quanto Valtteri Bottas e Nicholas Latifi hanno superato il limite di velocità stabilito nella corsia dei box. Durante le qualifiche vengono cancellati due tempi dai commissari sportivi ai piloti per non aver rispettato i limiti della pista a Yuki Tsunoda e Kevin Magnussen, entrambi alla curva 3, e tre tempi - quelli di George Russell, Tsunoda e Lewis Hamilton - vengono cancellati dai commissari sportivi ai piloti durante l'esposizione delle doppie bandiere gialle. Come detto, durante le qualifiche, la direzione gara interviene in un paio di occasioni per interrompere la sessione a causa della presenza di alcuni fumogeni arancioni in pista, lanciati dagli spalti. L'organizzazione del Gran Premio e gli stessi vertici del tracciato di Zandvoort prenderanno molto seriamente quanto accaduto. I responsabili dei lanci di fumogeni verranno allontanati dall'impianto e faranno richiamo ad una maggiore responsabilità da parte del pubblico tramite un appello urgente al buon senso delle migliaia di tifosi, avvertendo anche che l’uso dei fumogeni non sarà tollerato. The Mexican driver Sergio Perez comments on his qualifying session and his mistake on the final:
"I was pushing it to the limit on the final lap of Q3 and I just went over the limit a little, it’s a shame. I went a bit too hot into the final corner and in the end I was lucky not to damage the car. I touched the throttle too early; I just kissed the gravel and unfortunately, I lost the rear end. I was on a good lap and could have improved quite a bit but we lost out. We are still P5 though and we can race from there but it will be very important to have a strong race pace. We have made positive changes to the car since yesterday and we are on the right track, this morning the long run was positive so Im hopeful to carry that into tomorrow and make up some good positions on the leaders. We think it could be a very close race between us, the Mercedes and the Ferraris, it could be a battle and I am looking forward to it".
These words are instead opposed to those of his team mate Verstappen, the poleman of the day:
"Unbelievable! We had a difficult day yesterday, the whole team worked really hard over night to turn it around and we recovered well. Again, today we had a quick car and it was enjoyable to drive; a qualifying lap around here feels insane. I know it’s going to be close during the race, but I think if we make the right calls on tyres and execute it well, we should stand a good chance tomorrow. The atmosphere is amazing here, I hope the fans are having a great time, I really can feel the support and I can hear them all around the track".
Verstappen’s incredible performance is also highlighted by Red Bull’s Team Principal Christian Horner, who pays tribute to his driver:
"When you watch elite sportsmen at the top of their game they can really turn it on under pressure and Max did just that. He’s gaining more experience. He is continuing to mature and develop, and he has proved throughout the year that he can deliver an outstanding performance. Charles put down a hell of a marker and there was a lot of pressure on Max to turn in a perfect lap and he did it. It was a tiny margin but a vital one for tomorrows race. But, as I have said before, it’s all about team work. There is a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes, crunching the numbers and working on the simulator late into the night back at home in Milton Keynes. It is a shame for Checo not to be able to finish that final lap. He was up there as well and he would probably have been on the second row but he is P5 and will be able to fight hard from there against Charles and Carlos. Mercedes will be also be competitive in the race, they have nothing to lose, they will push hard and it all sets up for a very exciting contest tomorrow".
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc also comments on the session just held, underlining the potential and hopes for the race:
"As a driver, you always target pole but Max (Verstappen) just put it together today. The car balance felt a step better compared to yesterday. Q1 and Q2 were a little tricky. We tried different things on the out laps and in the end the front was a bit stronger which was good because I could push more. I'm confident for tomorrow, though it's a track on which it is rather difficult to overtake, so I hope it will be as close as today and that we can have a good battle with Max".
Carlos Sainz feels hopeful and ready for Sunday’s race:
"We knew we were up for a good battle and it proved to be one of the closest qualifyings of the year. Finishing P3 within less than a tenth from pole shows how small the margin was today. I expect a close race with even more cars in the mix, but I’m confident we can fight for the top places. Overtaking may be a bit easier than last year and strategy will play a big role. Tonight, together with the team, we will evaluate all the available options in order to maximize the result in the race".
Although there is contentment in the Ferrari box for the first and second row, the sports director Laurent Mekies confesses that there is also frustration:
"We can be reasonably happy with how qualifying went, but there’s also an element of regret. We’re pleased to be back fighting for pole position down to the nearest thousandths of a second with both our cars, but obviously, when you come that close to pole you would like to have actually taken it. To see Charles and Carlos come within a whisker of Verstappen, just 2 and 9 hundredths slower respectively, is a good indicator of how intense the fight was. Well done to Max for his home pole. One of the positive aspects of the weekend so far is that we have been able to help the drivers get more and more confident with the car with each passing session. This is down to the team at the track, including Charles and Carlos, and all those supporting us back in Maranello. I expect tomorrow’s race will be a very close battle between three teams, as even Mercedes could be in the mix and so it should be a great show for all the fans in the grandstands and those watching at home on TV. We know that, so far, Verstappen has had a very strong race pace and tomorrow we will try and put him under pressure to make life difficult for him".
Another team that certainly close the day with an intense load of data to be analyzed is Alpine, which see its drivers both excluded from Q3, in twelfth and thirteenth position, with some problems emerged during the day. Alain Permane says:
"It was a disappointing Qualifying for the team today, we have work to do, but I’m sure we can recover and score points tomorrow. We line up twelfth and thirteenth on the grid, but with the modified DRS zone this year, overtaking should be possible. We will be doing our hard work between now and the race to identify the best strategy. Esteban has not been quite at one with his car this weekend, struggling with the rear end in general around the lap. Fernando’s result is definitely not a reflection of his performance, he had traffic on his second Q2 run and would have been comfortably into Q3 without this. We’ll do everything we can tomorrow to come away with both cars in the points and, the way we’ve been racing at recent events, I think achieving that is certainly possible".
The words of Alan Permane, sports director of the French team, are also reflected by those of Ocon:
"It’s been a tricky day for us and it’s not where we wanted to qualify. We struggled a bit with rear grip and seemed to lack a bit of pace compared to previous weekends, so we’ll definitely have a close look at that. We’ve been in worse positions in the past and points places are not far away. The weekend is far from finished. We hope for some more overtakes tomorrow and we’ll be giving it our all as always to have a solid race and get both cars back into the points".
Fernando Alonso focuses more on the possibility of scoring in the race:
"Unfortunately, it’s not been our day today. It was the traffic in Q2 that cost us from going into Q3, as we were half a second faster and could have been in sixth position. We could not show the true potential of the car, but these things can happen on a track as narrow as Zandvoort. Let’s see if we can use the pace of the car tomorrow and have a better result in the race when it counts. It’s not easy to overtake here as we saw last year, but we will push to score as many points as possible".
The same sentiment runs through the Alfa Romeo box, as confirmed by Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal:
"Today’s result is roughly in line with what we were expecting after what has been, so far, a difficult weekend. We struggled to find the best balance for the car yesterday and, even though we made a step forward today, it was not enough to place a car in Q3. P14 and P16 on the grid are not the easiest places to start on this narrow and twisty track, but there’s a long race ahead of us and we need to be ready to make the best of any opportunity. The start and the strategy will be key: we’ll give everything we have and see what we can bring home".
Valtteri Bottas express the gaps he still finds in their car:
"The feeling with the car wasn’t too bad, but we’re still lacking a bit of pace and grip to be higher up on the grid. We tried everything with the setup, but what we could find was not fast enough today. We expected this compound to be a one-lap tyre in qualifying, and that is what we have been focusing on with our run plan today. It’s been quite a tough weekend so far, but there’s still a race ahead of us. It’s going to be a challenge, no doubt, but we will try our best and see what we can find".
Zhou Guanyu seems to be more satisfied:
"I think we made a decent step in qualifying today, especially considering the results in FP3 earlier today, as we were on the back foot and it looked like we could’ve been out in Q1. As predicted, it was super tight in the midfield, but I am fairly happy with where we qualified: I reckon we maximized everything we had, and this is why I wanted to thank the team over the radio. We are still struggling a little with the pace compared to some of the other teams, and we should start from that to give ourselves a better chance ahead of tomorrow. It will be hard to overtake on this track layout, but hopefully we can have some good action during the race".
For what concerns Williams, Nicholas Latifi says:
"We had an issue that we are still investigating in qualifying. On my first lap I was getting some messages on the dash and losing power and then on my second attempt I had to abort the lap because the issue re-occurred. It's not ideal because we've been struggling all weekend and it seemed like we had made a decent step in the right direction at the start of the first lap, but we just didn't get In a representative lap. This is motorsport and it happens".
Alexander Albon says he is satisfied, considering the premises with which they approached this weekend:
"Today was okay if you think about the circuit and where we are in our limitations to get into Q2, so I think it's a really good job. I'm pleased about Q1 as we didn't expect to make it into Q3, so it's been a massive effort by everyone. I lost a little bit of the rear in Q2 and we're fighting small margins out there, so whilst finishing P15 in Q2 is obviously disappointing, I feel like we made some good changes overnight, so can see if we can make up some places tomorrow".
Overall, the Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson suggests that there has been some progress, despite the result of the session:
"We made some good progress overnight and got the car into a better window today. It is still difficult round here, especially when the wind picks up, but we got more from the tyres today and were able to get a more consistent balance. We expected Q1 to be very tight and so opted to send Alex early to give him a clean lap. This worked well and he was able to produce a very good lap to make Q2. Unfortunately, Nicholas struggled with a spike in engine temperature, which we are currently investigating. The problem started during his 1st lap in Q1 and we took some time to investigate whilst the car was back in the garage. However, it was clear early on in his 2nd run that we had not fully fixed the issue and so he had to abort his lap, which was a huge shame as he was very fast in the opening half of the lap.It was a shame that Alex’s 1st run in Q2 was interrupted by a flare on the track, but he was still able to set a decent lap on used tyres after the red flag. For his final run, we again looked for a clear lap for Alex, which was successful, but he had a small snap early in the lap, which prevented him from bettering his Q1 time. A perfect lap would’ve earned us a few more places on the grid but Q3 was probably just beyond us today. We have a good selection of tyre remaining for tomorrow and there is still a long way to go this weekend".
Instead, there are mixed emotions and feelings in both the Mclaren box and the Haas box. It is time for the American team to celebrate Schumacher’s entry into Q3, but also to question the reasons for Magnussen’s unsatisfactory qualifying, as expressed by Guenther Steiner, Team Principal:
"It was a good day today mainly for Mick getting into Q3, that was our goal. Obviously, our goal was to get in with both cars, and I said anything is possible - either going out in Q1 or getting in to Q3 - and we did both. Well done to Mick, Kevin just wasn’t happy on his fast lap and it’s so close together, it’s very difficult if you are not 100 percent at ease with the car. Tomorrow, I think the car is performing pretty well and we know that Kevin is a good starter, so maybe he will make some magic at the start. All in all, it’s very good that Mick starts in the top 10 and hopefully we can bring some points home".
Mick Schumacher says he is fully satisfied with the result:
"It’s great to be in Q3 and obviously we’re very happy with our performance. It’s unexpected as I think we were expecting to go out in Q2 but to get to Q3 and repeat the lap time we did in Q2 was definitely decent, and we now have a good starting position for tomorrow. We haven’t made massive changes, we’ve just been fine-tuning and luckily we started the weekend with a great set-up so we didn’t have to make big changes which always helps. It especially helps builds confidence and hopefully makes you faster".
On the other hand, Magnussen is particularly confused by the situation found on track:
"It looked good this morning and for whatever reason it disappeared again. It looked pretty decent after the first run in Q1 so that’s why I’m a bit puzzled that we didn’t gain that extra grip that everyone else seemed to, as I just gained two tenths where some others gained eight tenths or a second. We’ll push tomorrow and see what we can do".
The same contrasting situation is found at Mclaren, given the huge difference between the performance of the two drivers. The Team Principal Andreas Seidl talks about this:
"Mixed feelings after qualifying here in Zandvoort. Lando had a very strong run, got everything out of the car, and finished Q7. Daniel was unlucky with the incident in front of him, which cost him the chance of progressing, and he starts P17. The car has been competitive so far this weekend, and we made improvements overnight which have put us in a decent position. Qualifying just behind the top three teams is a strong result, demonstrating we have the pace to score good points tomorrow. Our full focus is on race prep, and we’re looking forward to an exciting Dutch Grand Prix in front of an unbelievable crowd".
Lando Norris is very satisfied with the result and is not reluctant to admit it:
"A good day. I’m very happy with P7. We’ve given ourselves the best opportunity to make the most of our race, and we couldn’t have done a lot better comparing to the six cars ahead of us. We’ve got a good chance to score some good points tomorrow, so that’s the aim".
On the contrary, Daniel Ricciardo is visibly bitter for the missed opportunity:
"I’m disappointed to be out in Q1. It was a tough one, because I think we were tracking to make it through. I was quite confident we were, but then just got a bit unlucky in the second-last corner. The car in front dragged some dirt onto the track and I just slid my way through and lost, I think it was about three-tenths or something. So, yeah, that cost us. I think then it was probably a couple of tenths to find, and I think we could have chipped away at that. So it’s pretty unlucky and frustrating. It's going to be tough for the race tomorrow but we’ll keep at it".
At Alphatauri there is happiness, considering the placement of Tsunoda in Q3 and Gasly just outside, in eleventh position. Tsunoda does not hide his happiness:
"I’m really happy about our Quali performance today. If I’m honest, it was a bit of a surprise to make it through to Q3, considering our pace in FP3, but we made some good changes to the car after practice, I was then able to put it altogether and extract the maximum performance from the car. The hard work from the team has really paid off this afternoon and making it through to Q3 is really positive, so I’m pleased with how we’ve improved today. Now we’ve got to concentrate on the race, we’ve got a lot of strong data to look through, so we need to work hard tonight to allow us to try and finish in the top 10 tomorrow".
Pierre Gasly is more content but always satisfied:
"At the end of the day, considering where we were in the practice sessions, we have to be pleased with our performance today. We’ve made a big step-up from FP3, and we just missed out on making it through to Q3 this afternoon. For the race tomorrow, the aim is to gain as many places as possible off the line, as we’re starting from P11, and then hopefully come home in the points".
These positive feelings are then confirmed by Claudio Balestri, Chief Engineer:
"After Friday’s session we were not really satisfied by our performance as we knew there was margin to improve our package, so for this reason we decided to change the setups overnight. The aim was to try to improve the management of the tyres and the overall performance, we were especially struggling in the corners. In high-speed corners we were sliding and in Sector 1 we were slower than our competitors. This morning, in FP3 we didn’t fully solve our main limitations and were not happy with our performance, so we made further changes to our setups before Quali and it paid off. At the end of day, we can be pleased with Yuki starting tomorrow in P9 and Pierre in P11. Now we are looking forward to the race, it will be very important to manage the tyres and to ensure we control the degradation, and if we do this well then hopefully we can fight for points".
This qualifying session was also a huge test for Mercedes, which find theirselves with two satisfied drivers and positive prospects for the future. George Russell says:
"I think on a circuit like this, there is so much track evolution and when we are already on the back foot, we felt like we need to give it everything and that was our strategy in Budapest as well. The track kept evolving and if you are the last one to cross the line, you are going to hopefully get the best of the track so it goes both ways, you can look like hero or zero. And obviously today it didn't quite work for us but P6 isn't a terrible place to start and the run into Turn 1 and those first few laps will be vital. But I see no reason why we can't fight for a podium. I hope the sun comes out and combined with the orange fog, creates a bit of temperature in the atmosphere tomorrow. We understand why we were slow in Spa and why we are faster this weekend, so I think these two races have been key to our understanding of how to make a faster car across 23 races".
Lewis Hamilton is also pleased with the progress of the car compared to the weekend in Spa:
"That final lap was a good one, coming into the final sector I was definitely up and I saw the car facing the opposite direction and had to lift, that lap could have been good enough for at least third but I'll see if I can replace that tomorrow. I'm happy our car is much, much better this weekend, that's exciting. Throughout qualifying I was just a tenth behind the Red Bull which gave me a lot of belief that we could just maybe make the difference but it wasn't meant to be. I'm really happy with where I've got the setup and balance of the car, I hope degradation comes into play tomorrow and we can have the upper hand. The aero characteristics of the car work much better here, last week we had to run our car higher and that small window where our car likes to operate in is much easier to find here".
Toto Wolff is confident too, given the second-row finish:
"It was frustrating not to have the chance to improve our times on the final run of Q3, we were a tenth up on Verstappen and Leclerc so Lewis was in contention for the pole here. Unfortunately, Checo pushed it a lot and lost it but it's not his fault. It's just a decision you take, you can lose pole position because of a yellow or you can lose the pole by a few hundredths having run first - afterwards you always know better. We have a strong race car which has been in a good place all weekend and starting on the second row, anything is possible tomorrow. We developed a car which gains a lot of its downforce with a low ride height and sometimes you can't run low because you are hitting the ground. You're forced to take compromises in the setup which moves the car away from its sweet spot but here in Zandvoort, we're able to find that spot much more easily".
The same kind of statement also comes from Andrew Shovlin, who closes his qualifying day satisfied with the ability of the car to manage the tyre degradation:
"After a really difficult qualifying session last week, it's been encouraging to see that we have been able to get the car and tyres in a better place throughout free practice and qualifying. Both drivers lost positions with the yellow flag caused by Sergio's spin, which is frustrating when it's as tight as it was today but sometimes that's just the way it goes. We did some race work this morning during final practice and both drivers were encouraged by the way the car was handling and looking after its tyres, so that will hopefully bode well for tomorrow. It's also hard to know where everyone is going to go on strategy for tomorrow. There's wasn't a lot of long run data due to a number of red flags so it may be we see a range of strategies up and down the grid which could give us opportunity. We do normally race better than we qualify and if that proves to be the case, we should be able to make some good progress in the race tomorrow".
On Sunday, 4th September, 2022, after two years of closed door racing due to the pandemic, the orange crowd can occupy for the first time the grandstands of the Zandvoort circuit, clearly galvanized by Verstappen’s dominance in this season, and they obviously hope for his win on the home circuit. Loud music, smoke machines and great enthusiasm in every part of the facility welcome the drivers to the fifteenth race of the season, the second of the European summer triple header, between Spa and Monza. The reigning World Champion will start on pole position, sharing the front row with Charles Leclerc, while Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton occupy the second row, and Sergio Perez and George Russell start from the third row. Mick Schumacher will start P8 after his best qualifying ever on dry conditions. The tyre compounds chosen for this race are C3, C2 and C1, the hardest available, due to the abrasive nature of the track and the high temperatures. The pit stop strategy on this circuit may consist on a two-stop race with mediums-mediums if the start is on softs or softs-mediums if the start is on mediums, but also hard tyres may play a role on this circuit, and the event of a safety car may change all the strategies. Max Verstappen starts on completely new tyres while the others start on used tyres. Hamilton, Russell, Norris and Schumacher start on medium tyres while all the others use soft tyres. At the start, Verstappen and Leclerc defend their position, while Sainz and Hamilton bump into each other, with the former gaining advantage, and Lando Norris manages to overtake George Russell, who has a bad start and also has to defend himself from Lance Stroll. One lap later, Russell takes his position back. On lap 2, Kevin Magnussen loses grip on his Haas, goes out of the track but stays in the race, now in last place. Ocon, Stroll and Vettel are the drivers who gain the most positions in the first lap, three for the Frenchman and two for the two Aston Martin drivers. The first ten laps are all about tyre management and keeping a good pace, and no major events are to be noted. The first relevant fight happens between lap 9 and 10, when Fernando Alonso overtakes Pierre Gasly on the start/finish straight and gains P12. On lap 12, he also overtakes Gasly’s teammate, Yuki Tsunoda. Sebastian Vettel is the first driver to enter the pits on lap 11, followed by Gasly and Ricciardo one lap later. Few drivers, such as Russell and Norris, complain about a possible high degradation of the tyres, so tyre management will be crucial for the rest of the race, and the use of hard tyres can be a game changer.
Sergio Perez is the first of the top teams’ drivers to mount new tyres on lap 15, followed by Carlos Sainz, who unfortunately has to wait twelve seconds before leaving the pits due to a delay on the mounting of the left rear tyre; Perez also happens to run over one of Ferrari’s wheel guns, but at the end of the race, no further action is taken after this incident. Sainz’s race, besides this event, is irremediably compromised due to his slow stop. Verstappen changes tyres on lap 19. Charles Leclerc sets the fastest lap on lap 19 but is still far from the Dutchman, while the two Mercedes are still in their first stint on medium tyres; one lap later, Sergio Perez is the fastest on the track, while Leclerc starts to lower his pace due to degradation and Verstappen, on lap 20, gets back his extra point for the fastest lap. At this moment, ignoring the fact that they have not pitted yet, it is the first the time during this season that both Mercedes lead the race; quite curious, since they have been dominating the majority of the races for many years from 2014 to 2020 and part of 2021, apart from the Red Bull’s comeback in the last season. On lap 28, Max Verstappen gets rid of George Russell and gains P2, setting also the fastest lap. On lap 30, it is Hamilton’s turn to change tyres, choosing the hard ones, so it is now the moment to find out if Mercedes’s strategy will pay out. George Russell is the last driver to pit, on lap 32; he mounts hard tyres as well. Sergio Perez is now third, ahead of both Mercedes drivers, but Hamilton, on harder but newer tyres, is gaining on him. On lap 35, the seven-time World Champion eventually sets the fastest lap. Hard tyres seem right now the best compound to use. On lap 36, Lewis Hamilton is under one second behind Sergio Perez, so he can use DRS to try an overtake, but the Mexican defends his position at Turn 1 and manages to hold him back for the rest of the lap; on the next one, Hamilton gains P3, but in the meantime has to fight with the backmarker Sebastian Vettel, who leaves him space only in the last part of the lap. The four-time World Champion will be penalized later for ignoring blue flags. On lap 39, it is George Russell’s turn to overtake Sergio Perez, with relative ease. On lap 41, Sergio Perez makes his second stop, mounting hard tyres. The Mexican sets the fastest lap on lap 42, while he has to chase Lando Norris. On lap 44, Yuki Tsunoda stops the car at Turn 3, triggering a yellow flag, but manages to restart a few seconds later, so there is no need to bring out the safety car.
"Tyres not fitted".
Shouts Tsunoda in the team radio. The team, instead, answers:
"Tyres are OK".
The Japanese driver has to make a long stop one lap later, probably due to an issue occurred on changing tyres in the latest pit stop, and then eventually stops in the middle of the track after noticing once again that something is wrong, confirming that the tyres were not fitted well, thus triggering the virtual safety car. This might be the ideal moment when all the drivers on a two-stop strategy can make their second stop, in fact, Norris, Alonso, Verstappen but also Hamilton and Russell take advantage of this. Ferrari, unfortunately, already made their second pit stop before the start of the virtual safety car, so Leclerc is force to drop down P4, behind the two Mercedes. Hamilton and Russell now run on medium tyres, while Verstappen, Leclerc and the others are on hard tyres. On lap 54, the most interesting battles are in the mid-field, with Alonso trying to overtake Norris for P8, but eventually putting one wheel in the gravel in turn 1, and Sainz, who has to come back after a disaster pit strategy and is trying to overtake Esteban Ocon in P6. On lap 55, Valtteri Bottas has to stop his car at the end of the main straight, triggering a yellow flag in sectors 1 and 3, and few seconds later the safety car is deployed. Max Verstappen makes another stop while Hamilton and Russell stay out. Leclerc and Perez change tyres as well, while Bottas’s Alfa Romeo is still on track.
"I lost the engine".
Says Valtteri Bottas while he acknowledges that his race is over. One lap later, all the other drivers, except Hamilton and Perez, pit for soft tyres. Carlos Sainz, after his stop, makes an unsafe release while bumping into Fernando Alonso, who was behind him. On lap 61, the race resumes after the safety car leaves the track, in what looks like a rolling start with all drivers close to each other. Max Verstappen immediately overtakes Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1, gaining one second on the Mercedes’s driver in less of a lap. Hamilton is clearly unhappy with the team for the decisions made in this stage of the race. On lap 64, even George Russell, with soft tyres, overtakes his teammate and puts himself behind Max Verstappen, who is now in a race of his own. In the following laps, Lewis has to defend from Charles Leclerc, and on lap 66 he has to let him pass, dropping down to P4. In the last few laps of the race, the close fights are in the mid-field, between Sainz and Perez for P5 and between Alonso and Norris for P7. On lap 69, the race direction decides to hand five seconds of penalty to Carlos Sainz due to the unsafe release on lap 56. One lap later, Sergio Perez puts a wheel into the gravel in an attempt to overtake the Spaniard and loses some time behind, but he is still virtually P5 due to Sainz’ penalty. Max Verstappen wins the race, with George Russell and Charles Leclerc completing the podium. The orange crowd may now celebrate the local hero winning again at Zandvoort, after an eventful race that has been decided by Tsunoda’s and Bottas’ retirements and by the pit stop strategies affected by these two events. Red Bull confirm their dominance in a race affected by many unexpected events and a very abrasive asphalt. A mixed weekend for Mercedes, with George Russell obtaining an unexpected second place, but with Lewis Hamilton who had a chance to win but due to a poor strategy has to finish away from the podium. Charles Leclerc ends the race third, in a race where he did all that he could, but never standing a chance with Verstappen’s Red Bull. The reigning World Champion wins his 30th career Grand Prix, his tenth victory of the season, and his fourth in a row, setting the twenty-first fastest lap.
The Dutch Red Bull Racing driver, who had never won four consecutive races since his debut in the category during the 2015 season, equals the same number of overall victories he achieved in the previous season in which he became World Drivers' Champion. Verstappen is the first driver other than Hamilton to win four consecutive races since Nico Rosberg won seven, triumphing in the last three Grands Prix of the 2015 season and the first four of the 2016 championship. With seven races remaining, the driver standings leader can still break the record held by Vettel and Michael Schumacher, both of whom were able to win 13 races in a world championship. Verstappen repeated his success in the previous edition, achieving the fifth hat trick (pole position, fastest lap and victory) in his Formula 1 career, now among the top 10 drivers in world history for number of laps completed during a race with 1,636, placing him ahead of Nelson Piquet and Niki Lauda. For the second consecutive year since the Dutch Grand Prix returned to the Formula 1 World Championship calendar at the Zandvoort circuit in 2021, a local driver wins the race in his home country. For the Milton Keynes-based stable, which led lap number 5,000 in its history in the category, it is the 11th victory in the championship, the 86th overall in its history, the second success in total in the Dutch race, confirming its victory for the second consecutive edition of the race with engines under a different name, Red Bull Powertrains, abbreviated RBPT, after the previous year's victory powered by Honda engines. Russell, second, and now fourth in the drivers' standings ahead of Sainz Jr., equaled the same career-best result he achieved in the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix with Williams, setting his first second-place finish in a Grand Prix completed over the prescribed distance. The British driver, in his 75th Grand Prix, is now only 13 points behind the second-placed driver, Leclerc, without yet having won a race, and marks Mercedes' 12th podium finish of the championship without a win. For the Monegasque, now again second in the drivers' standings ahead of Pérez, the third position established only the second podium finish in the last 10 races of the year, where he achieved success in the Austrian Grand Prix.
Prior to this race, Leclerc had not finished in the top five positions in the last three races. Hamilton, fourth, is now 30 points behind teammate Russell, despite qualifying ahead of him by 8-7 so far this year. Aside from retiring during the first in the previous Belgian Grand Prix, Hamilton has not finished a race lower than fourth since finishing eighth in the Monaco Grand Prix. Pérez is fifth thanks to the penalty given to Sainz Jr. but loses second place in the drivers' standings, now occupied by Leclerc, as the Mexican has one win to the Ferrari driver's three. Alonso is sixth in what was the tenth consecutive result in the points zone, while Alpine, with Ocon's ninth, scores points with both cars for the fifth race in a row. Norris, who started in seventh, finishes in the same position, and is also placed seventh in the drivers' standings. The British McLaren driver has finished in the same position in four of the last five races. Sainz Jr., fifth at the finish, climbs to eighth because of a penalty, in what was the second consecutive Grand Prix in which Ferrari received a penalty to be served on race time. Stroll finishes 10th for the fifth time this season without finishing a race beyond that position, while Albon, 12th, finishes in the top 12 for the seventh time this season. For the first time in his career, retired Bottas failed to reach the checkered flag in the last three races. However, the Finnish Alfa Romeo driver was classified in the first Grand Prix of the last three, the Hungarian one, for completing 90 percent of the race distance. Winner Verstappen leads the drivers' standings by the highest margin ever over second, Leclerc, and third Pérez, his teammate, both 109 points apart. Red Bull Racing mechanics set the season record for time for a pit stop during a Pérez pit stop, with 2.09 seconds. The previous record belonged to the same stable, again for a pit stop by the Mexican, with 2.19 seconds in the Hungarian Grand Prix. During the race, seven times are cancelled by the stewards to drivers for not respecting the track limits, and in particular those of Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly, Nicholas Latifi, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc, Mick Schumacher and Max Verstappen, all at Turn 3. After the podium, drivers and team managers make their statements and share their opinions about the race. Max Verstappen is obviously on cloud nine after the victory and is proud of the teamwork at Red Bull:
"Today was quite eventful and not a straightforward race at all. We had to make the right calls and it all worked out well in the end. Mercedes were very quick on the harder compound, which we didn’t expect, so it made it more difficult for us as we were less compatible with the hards. We managed everything quite well and we made the right calls on the strategy, so well done to the team here and back at the factory. It’s always special to win your home Grand Prix, but this year I had to work even harder for it. It’s incredible to win again in front of this crowd, we’ve had unbelievable support here and I’m proud to be Dutch".
Sergio Perez, who failed to reach the podium, admits that it has been a hard day for him, but he is happy for the team:
"Obviously this is a great day for the team, but it wasn’t the best day at the office for me. I struggled with tyre degradation in the first and second stints, and I never quite got the balance where I wanted it to be. It was a hectic race with incidents in the pit lane, but I was lucky that my front wing wasn’t damaged when I drove over the wheel gun. Despite the difficulty I had, we managed to save some good points. There’s lots to take away from today and plenty to understand from our side so that we can come back strong in Monza".
Red Bull’s team manager Chris Horner has to credit the Milton Keynes team for most of the work done in order to obtain this victory and, despite not the best Perez’ race, it has been a very positive day:
"This was a huge race with an incredible amount of anticipation and pressure. It was also a tough race strategically. First, with the virtual safety car and then the full safety car. To pit Max in the lead with 12 laps to go, putting him behind two Mercedes, is a big call, but it was the right one. We would prefer to be on the better tyre. However, what you see here is only 10 per cent of the team, it’s what goes on behind the scenes that really makes this possible. The team is operating at an extremely high level and it’s all the support and effort that you don’t see back in Milton Keynes that makes a victory like this possible. All in all, it was a fantastic team performance and both drivers were in the zone from the moment they arrived at the track. Checo was unfortunately jumped at the restart by Carlos and I think, in hindsight, we should have overruled his preference for the medium tyre, but he had a strong race. We’re in a great position and we are happy, although nothing is done until it is done. We operate one race at a time and we don’t allow ourselves to think too far ahead. It’s Monza next week, we’re looking forward to it and hopefully can carry this form into that race".
In Mercedes, George Russell is excited about clinching an outstanding P2, after a race in which the Silver Arrows gambled on tyre strategy, which favoured him instead of Hamilton, and acknowledges that the car is getting closer to Red Bull and Ferrari:
"It’s been an incredible reception here, a really special feeling for all of us drivers to come racing in Zandvoort and in Holland. As a team we showed incredible pace today, I know the team result wasn’t quite what we hoped for, but this gives us a lot of confidence and a lot of faith going forwards. It’s incredible to see three different teams on the podium and we as Mercedes are slowly getting closer to that top step, so let’s keep on pushing. Not an easy decision for the team to make with the final safety car - when you’re in front with track position, you’ve got a shot to go for the win which is what we did. But this is what we as Mercedes are here to do, we’re here to win. And the 2000 people back in the UK, at Brackley and Brixworth, are all working to get us that win, so today we took a decision to give us the best chance of that. Our qualifying performance yesterday probably cost us most this weekend because if we were on the second row, I think we’d have been fighting even more for the win. But from race one in Bahrain, being a second off, to this weekend and having the fastest race car is incredibly impressive and everyone in the team should be very proud".
Lewis Hamilton, who for a good part of the race was very close to the final win, is clearly disappointed but there are some positive aspects from which he can restart:
"Today we were really challenged with the VSCs and Safety Cars. I think the strategy and the car had been so good up until that point, the pit stops were fantastic, the best I think we’ve had all year and it was really geeing me up. Especially after such an up and down year, we’ve not had a win since Saudi Arabia last year. So, it was finally there, within our grasp but of course then the safety car really didn’t help. But the guys were really, really on it, we were all on it and I really was hopeful that we were going to get a 1-2 together as a team. But given how it played out after the final safety car and dropping back, I was just on the edge of breaking point with emotions and my apologies to the team because I don’t even remember what I said over radio, I just lost it for a second. But I think they know that there is just so much passion and I want to look at today as a glass half full - we came here struggling from the last race and we were fighting against the Red Bulls today, we were quicker than most at many points. Without the safety car I think we’d have been challenging them for the win at the end on the one-stop which I don’t think the others could do. So many great things to take from this weekend - the car was finally working. If this can be the same in the future races, we’re going to be continuing to breathe down their necks and we’re going to get that win".
Mercedes’ team manager Toto Wolff, despite Hamilton’s fourth place, is happy about the team’s growth and clarifies that the pit strategy was a gamble for taking a victory, which worked partially:
"Zandvoort was a good track for us and both drivers performed to the maximum today with a strong car. We had some tough decisions to take with the safety car towards the end. With Lewis ahead, you can do two things: you can either pit him, lose track position against Verstappen and leave George out - screwed. You can pit both, but you are settling for P2 and P3 and we agreed as a team this morning to fight for the win, so it was worth the risk. I feel for Lewis, it’s highly emotional, you are that close, bracing for the win and then you are being eaten up. It’s clear that every emotion comes out but as I always say, we are the dustbin for the driver in the car. Lewis and I were just speaking and there are definitely more positives to take from this weekend, second and fourth, it’s annoying but we had a good race car here and that’s most important. You have got to take risks where we are. I’m confident we’ll get the win this season and we are going to try the maximum, we are a bit closer today and it is good fun in any case".
Mercedes’ engineering director Andrew Shovlin explains the team’s strategy for the race and what went wrong, but he is happy for the car’s overall improvement:
"Our plan all along was to try and make a one stop strategy work if Red Bull and Ferrari went for the two stop as expected, as that would have given us the best chance of fighting for the win today. Unfortunately, the VSC caused by the Alpha Tauri scuppered that as Max would no longer drop behind us, so we took the opportunity to fit the Medium to both cars. We were then looking good to get both on the podium when the final safety car gave us the conundrum of taking track position on the relatively fresh Mediums, or fitting a used Soft from qualifying. Clearly the Medium struggled so that dropped Lewis back to fourth but it was great to see George up there on the podium having driven a very strong race. We always go away and review where we could have improved so we will do that as always, but more importantly, this weekend has been an altogether more positive picture than the one from a few days ago in Spa. The car was strong throughout the weekend and that’s by far the most important point. We’re still trying to get our first win of the year but we are getting closer and closer to making that a reality, so will keep working hard to achieve that".
In Ferrari, Charles Leclerc is not happy about third place but admits that the car was not as fast the others, so it might not be the worst possible result. He highlights the fact that the competitors are improving, he knows that even the Italian Grand Prix will be hard but he is excited to race in front of the tifosi:
"We’re not particularly happy with P3 today after having started second, but we were just not fast enough. The first stint was really good on the Soft compound. I was quite confident, but on the Mediums things became more tricky, especially with Mercedes being so strong on the Hards. We were unlucky with the Virtual Safety Car, but I don’t think it would have changed much for us. Our competitors seem to have improved their pace, especially in the race, and this is something we will be focusing on going forward. We’re off to Monza next. Although, on paper, it doesn’t look like it will be the strongest race for us, we’re always extremely motivated going there. It’s our home race and I can’t wait to see our tifosi again".
Carlos Sainz is frustrated after a race full of negative events, such as the incident with Hamilton, the first slow pit stop, the second before the start of the virtual safety car and with the unsafe release and the consequential penalty:
"Today we had a very tough race and things just didn’t go our way. The set-up we went for didn’t work as expected and after picking up some damage at the start with Hamilton we lacked a bit of pace overall. Obviously, the late call for the first pit stop cost us a lot of race time and afterwards I got the penalty for an unsafe release, even though there was nothing else I could have done in that situation as I was trying to avoid hitting a McLaren mechanic in front of me. A tough one, but we’ll now focus on the next race at home in Monza".
Mattia Binotto, Ferrari’s Team Principal & Managing Director, complains that the car during the race was not as fast as in qualifying, and admits that the lack of pace is not a new problem:
"We cannot be satisfied with our race today. After performing well in qualifying, the car did not have the pace to win and unfortunately, that’s not the first time in recent races. We have to analyse everything in great detail, because the difference in performance between qualifying and the race demonstrates that we did not manage to exploit all the potential in the car. Now we go to Monza where we can expect a warm welcome from our tifosi. We know we can always count on their support and it will be great to finally see the grandstands at the Autodromo packed out, after the limitation on spectator numbers last year because of Covid. We will do our utmost to make our supporters proud of us, even if we already know it won’t be an easy race, given the performance level of our competitors".
In Alpine, Esteban Ocon is happy about beating Mclaren and making a comeback after a difficult qualifying:
"I’m pleased to score points today and it was a nice recovery after disappointment in Qualifying on Saturday. We have also outscored McLaren again, which is positive in our fight in the Constructors’ Championship. On my side, I had a mega start, made up a few places in the early part of the race, which put us in position to score points. There’s always more you can do, so we’ll assess the things we can improve for next time to come away with even more. Another race is just around the corner and I’m already looking forward to Monza, a track that I love, and one that will likely suit our car better. We will push on".
His teammate Fernando Alonso is happy too, especially about the pace and the tyre management:
"It was a good race for us today finishing sixth and scoring more points in the standings. We lost a few places obviously at the start, but we made some ground back and stopped very early for the Hard tyre. The pace of the car was good, and we continued to make progress. The only moment of the race where I felt we could relax a little bit was when we fitted the Softs and everything seemed set for us, but then the Safety Car came out and changed everything. We had to fight hard until the last lap with those behind us on fresher tyres and it was like a Qualifying session until the chequered flag. It’s a good result again for the team and my tenth points finish in a row, so let’s keep this up next weekend in Italy".
Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s Team Principal, states that the experience from free practices has been crucial for finding a working strategy for the race:
"We’re very pleased to extend our advantage in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship by scoring ten points in Zandvoort today. It was always going to be a tough task to progress both of our cars from twelfth and thirteenth on the grid into the points, but we’ve achieved just that after a very strong race across the board. Our strategy was decisive, using our knowledge from Friday Practice about the Hard tyre, which allowed both cars to be in a position to score good points. Fernando drove another great race, holding off Lando [Norris] at the end, with Esteban too doing a fantastic job to finish in ninth place and bring home valuable points. We will look ahead to Monza next weekend where we aim to conclude this triple header with another double points finish and, I can see no reason why that is not a possibility after two competitive weekends in Spa and here in the Netherlands. A great job by everyone at the team".
In McLaren, Lando Norris is not completely satisfied, especially for losing points against Alpine, but does not give up:
"Tough race, but I think it was a good one. We gave it our all. I think we had decent pace. It’s just tough battling with both Alpines, they can play a lot more with the strategy and hold me up. That was tough, so I’m happy with how we did. P6 would have been the best we could have achieved anyway, so one position out. We did lose some points to Alpine but they’re getting more out of their car than us at the moment. Despite that I’m happy with everything else. We’ll keep pushing and try to be ahead again next time".
His teammate Daniel Ricciardo knows that it would have been a hard race because of his starting position:
"It was always going to be a tricky Sunday because of where we started and the nature of the track. The first few laps were not too bad. I think we made some places here and there but starting that far back it’s hard to make a big impression, you need a big difference to make some moves and overtakes. In clear air, it felt like I had a little bit of pace to use - but it didn’t always seem to last long. So, obviously another challenging weekend. We look ahead to Monza, and I’ll try to bring back last year’s magic".
Andreas Seidl, McLaren’s Team Principal, compliments Norris’ race and acknowledges that Ricciardo’s Sunday was compromised from the start:
"Strong race for Lando this afternoon, finishing P7. The Safety Car at the end of the race was a little unfortunate for him, and he had to make another stop to defend against cars doing the same. That cost us a position to Fernando [Alonso] who had fresher tyres and could go to the end. On Daniel’s side, it was always a difficult task from P17 to make up positions on this track and unfortunately no opportunities came his way to make any progress. The team worked very hard this weekend: here at the track; back home at the MTC, and our colleagues at Mercedes HPP. Our strategists had complex calls to make today, but they were good calls and the strategy team and pit-crew worked well to determine and implement them. Two races down in this triple-header and we go again in five days at Monza. We look forward to that – but well done to Zandvoort and the Dutch fans for putting on a great event with a truly sensational atmosphere".
In Aston Martin, Lance Stroll recognizes that his team have been penalized by the safety car and, without it, the race could have been much more positive, but he is hopeful for the next races:
"Overall, it has been a positive weekend in terms of performance, but we were a little bit unlucky today with how things played out and how that affected our strategy. The timing of the Safety Car gave the Alpines and [Lando] Norris the advantage: without that we could have been fighting for seventh. Our pace was strong all weekend, I felt really confident in the car, and we were more competitive. That is really encouraging for the coming races. It has been a great push by the team back at the factory to make our car quicker, so hopefully this is the start of a strong run through to the end of the season".
His teammate Sebastian Vettel admits that the pace was not the best and that the pit stop strategy could have worked better if the stop was not so slow:
"We did not have great race pace - but probably could have earned a better result if we had not started so far back. We stopped early to try and undercut the cars ahead. That strategy would have worked, but that first pitstop was really slow - I lost a lot of time to Zhou [Guanyu], Pierre [Gasly], Alex [Albon], Mick [Schumacher] and I was very close to Daniel [Ricciardo]. I enjoyed my battle with Mick - but this race was not a highlight for either of us. Then I got a five-second penalty for ignoring blue flags when I was being passed by Lewis [Hamilton], but it did not really make much difference to my race. A tough day where making progress was always going to be difficult - but it is what it is".
Mike Krack, Aston Martin’s Team Principal, is happy for Stroll’s points finish but knows that the safety car made the race more complicated to both his drivers:
"Lance drove very well to score a hard-earned point this afternoon, managing his tyres throughout a tricky Soft-Medium-Hard-Soft three-stop race. The timing of the Safety Car did not help Lance’s race, but a point is a point. Sebastian moved up from his P19 grid slot to a P14 finish, and he was never likely to be able to make better progress than that on a circuit such as this one on which overtaking is difficult. From here we go on to Monza, one of the great circuits, but before we leave Zandvoort I would like to pay tribute to the organisers, who managed the race weekend very well, and the Dutch fans, whose enthusiasm made for a fantastic carnival atmosphere".
In Haas, Kevin Magnussen is obviously disappointed, but he managed to pick up few positions until the end:
"When you hit the wall in the race it’s not good, but it was my mistake. I tried too hard, lost the rear, went off and hit the wall, came back and I was able to continue. I tried my best to come back but I spent a long time trying to just get back up to the field but managed to make up a few positions and finish P15. It was a bit of a wasted weekend, so I hope we do better next time".
Mick Schumacher, after a good qualifying, points out some issues that made his race harder:
"We didn’t have the greatest of pit stops - I think we had a problem with the front jack not coming down, so I think that brought us out of contention for points this weekend. Nonetheless, it was great being here and I had a lot of fun even though I was at the wrong end of the field, battling with Sebastian is always great. These things happen, we’re now looking ahead at scoring points in the new few races to come".
Guenther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal, knows that it has been a difficult race for both drivers, but they have made all they could:
"It wasn’t the race we wanted to have today. Kevin lost a lot of positions on lap 2 when he went off. Mick was fighting in the points-paying positions but on his pit stop we had an issue with the front jack which didn’t come down, so we need to look into what it was. Catching up from there is difficult - we lost too many positions, overtaking is very difficult here and, in the end, we made it up to P13 and P15. Having been P18 and P19 at some stage, we didn’t give up, but it was difficult to catch-up because you have to apply different strategies and we couldn’t get back into the points".
In Alfa Romeo, Valtteri Bottas, who had to retire due to a technical issue, is particularly let down, especially due to the fact that the pace was better than in qualifying:
"It’s always disappointing to end a race ahead of time. I felt the car’s pace was better than yesterday’s, we had kept progressing, even though it would have still been challenging to score points. The battle in the midfield was quite good and there was plenty of action, but then we had a technical issue and our race was over. I am waiting for confirmation, but I think it was a power unit issue: there was no sign prior to that, everything was feeling ok and I suddenly lost power. I could see some flames in the back, so now we’ll have to see what we find there".
His teammate Zhou Guanyu, who was penalized for speeding in the pit lane, states that the safety car, deployed after his teammate’s retirement, made his race more difficult:
"It’s been quite a tough race today, particularly towards the end as we got slowed down a lot by all the blue flags. The late safety car also did not play in our favour, as there wasn’t much time left and we put on used softs which didn’t make it easy to charge up. It’s been a challenging weekend overall for the team, we’ve been clearly lacking something compared to the rest of the midfield, so we will have to work hard in these few days: we need to make sure to improve ahead of Monza next week and for the rest of the season, to try and get back to where we were, performance-wise, during the first races of the year".
Alfa Romeo’s team principal Frédéric Vasseur admits that it has been a disappointing race, especially for Bottas:
"It’s been a tough day at the end of a difficult weekend. We had been struggling to find pace but made some good improvements as we approached the race: unfortunately, we lost Valtteri for a suspected power unit issue, and Zhou’s race was compromised by a penalty for speeding in the pit-lane. With the midfield as close as it is, anything but a perfect race means you’re missing out on the points and this is exactly what happened. It’s been disappointing, but we have Monza next week and hopefully we will be able to put this one behind us and do well in front of that crowd. It’s a home race for us and our title partners and we want to have a good one to get back on track".
In AlphaTauri, Pierre Gasly is not happy about finishing right under the points zone but admits that his car is not the best at the moment; anyway, there are some positive aspects, such as the pace on hard tyres:
"Finishing P11 is never a great feeling, we tried our best to make it into the points, but I don’t think we quite had the pace to make it possible today. Ultimately, we’re lacking a little bit of performance compared to the other cars around us, we lost some time in the first stint and struggled on the Mediums in traffic. I think there are still some positives to take away from this weekend though, we knew this was going to be a track we would struggle on but the pace on the Hards this afternoon looked competitive. We’re now heading to Monza for the last of the European races, where I hope we’ll be able to come back stronger".
Yuki Tsunoda, probably the unluckiest driver of the day, is clearly disappointed, since he thought that the pace was good enough for finishing in the top ten:
"It’s been a disappointing day, as heading into the race our pace looked quite good and we were hoping to finish in the points. We dropped back a few places at the start of the race but were slowly making our way forward again and were positive we could finish in the top 10. Unfortunately, after I stopped for the Hards, I felt there was an issue with the car, the team could not see anything at that stage so they called me in to change the tyres. However, when I went back out I could still feel there was something wrong, which the team then confirmed by radio and we had to retire the car".
Claudio Balestri, AlphaTauri’s Chief Engineer, explains what went wrong with Tsunoda and why Gasly did not manage to finish in the points:
"Today, the target was to score points and unfortunately, we didn’t manage that. We started with both cars on Softs and we knew we needed to carefully manage the tyres. In the fight at the first lap, we lost a few positions to Ocon and Stroll, so for most of the first stint we were in P11 with Yuki and P12 with Pierre. Pierre ran in traffic for 10 laps and therefore suffered more tyre degradation, meaning he also lost a position to Alonso, so after a few laps we called him in to fit the Mediums. We then did the same with Yuki for his second stint. In this middle part of the race, with both cars on Mediums, we were not able to keep the pace of the two Alpines in front. We could see the Hard compound was very competitive on the other cars around us and for this reason we decide to stop Gasly and fit the Hards, whilst we let Yuki continue on the Mediums for a longer second stint. Having seen that the compound was working well, we decided to also pit Yuki for them. After the pit stop, he reported something strange at the rear of the car, we called him in again to change the tyres and immediately after we had a car failure. This is currently under investigation within the team. At the end of the race, when the Safety Car was deployed, due to Bottas stopping on track at the end of the main straight, we decided to stay out to unlap Pierre and then we pitted the lap after, fitting Options. When the Safety Car came in, Pierre was in P11, just behind Stroll both on the same tyre but the Aston Martin was very fast in the last corner and we could not get past him to enter into the points. Now we need to switch our thoughts to the preparation for next race in Monza".
In Williams, Alex Albon states that the bar was low, so the race has been relatively positive for him:
"I think coming into today, we didn’t have high expectations, so think we’ve proven we’re not too far away from the points. We didn’t expect much from the high downforce circuit, so it’s positive and I think going forward we won’t be so scared of these types of circuits and can focus on fighting for points. I was happy with the car, despite just lacking a bit of lap time. There’s still a little bit to find, but we can work on this and look at what we can do, as right now we’re fine tuning the package and know its limitations. It’s not points but it’s a good job".
Nicholas Latifi is completely disappointed and does not understand why his pace was so slow:
"It was just a race to forget really. We’ve been struggling with pace the whole weekend and it’s quite confusing to me as to why. Due to the issue in qualifying we didn’t really get the chance to see where we would have been on pace, so one to learn from".
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance for Williams, seems rather happy, despite what the drivers think, but complains about degradation and tyre management:
"I think we can be pretty pleased with the way that we executed the race today. There were a huge range of valid strategies, with all three compounds offering potentially useful trades in the overcast conditions. The Safety Car periods mixed things up a little and gave teams the opportunity to change from their base strategies. We were quite comfortable on the Medium tyre and looked to be finding a good rhythm on the Hard before the Safety Car gave us the opportunity to switch Alex to the Soft. Ultimately, we couldn’t score any points and the Safety Car didn’t help our cause today as it allowed Gasly a free tyre change. However, we were able to beat the Alfa Romeo and Haas cars as well as a McLaren and an Aston Martin. It was a shame to finish behind Pierre for the second weekend in a row, but he had good pace and qualified four places ahead of Alex. Hopefully we can turn the tables on him next weekend. Nicky went for an aggressive start on the Soft tyre but fell back and completed a fairly lonely race in free air. He showed decent pace on new tyres but struggled to control the degradation. We will investigate this over the coming days to see if we can find some ways to improve the situation in Monza".
Mario Isola, Pirelli’s Motorsport Director, shares his analysis on the overall performance of the different tyre compounds in the race:
"We saw an exciting and emotional race, ultimately influenced by two variables that can happen at a tricky circuit like Zandvoort: different strategies thanks to the contained degradation of the soft and the strong performance of the hard compound. There was also a virtual safety car and then a safety car, which kept the action unpredictable all the way to the flag, with plenty of overtaking thanks to the latest regulations as well. We saw a sea of orange in the grandstands, and I’d like to add another colour to the panorama of the Dutch Grand Prix: white, which is the colour of our hard tyre. That hard tyre was one of the stars of the show, thanks to very low degradation along with plenty of speed. The track evolution over the course of the weekend ensured that it came into its own on race day, with many teams adapting their strategies to make use of it. All three compounds played an important role over Zandvoort’s rollercoaster lap, with three drivers from three different teams on the podium".
Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Formula One Group, looks forward to the next race in Italy:
"With the energy and the passion of the fans at Zandvoort still ringing in our ears, we head to Monza: an incredibly important venue for Formula 1, where we celebrate 100 years of the circuit and 150 years of Pirelli: an Italian institution that is synonymous with motorsport. Today once more the tyres showed themselves to be perfect, by allowing for different strategies, increasing the number of on-track battles as well as overtaking moves, and helping us to deliver a successful and spectacular product that people love, while still guaranteeing the safety that is essential for a sport such as F1. This is a global success that we’d like to celebrate at Monza in style, hoping also that there’s space for a bit of red there too after all this orange".
The teams now prepare for the crucial Monza stage, where Verstappen can get really close to an early Championship win, Ferrari have to look for improvements since the latest win in Austria seems very far away, and Mercedes need to confirm the progress made in the last few races. The Dutchman now leads the Championship by 109 points, while there are only seven races left before the end of the season.