Hamilton leads truncated first Dutch Grand Prix practice

Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images

Hamilton leads truncated first Dutch Grand Prix practice

Formula 1

Hamilton leads truncated first Dutch Grand Prix practice

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Lewis Hamilton snatched top spot from home hero Max Verstappen by less than a tenth of a second in F1’s first timed session at Zandvoort for the Dutch Grand Prix.

The Briton set his best time, a 1m11.500s, late in the hour after most of the session was lost to a protracted stopped to recover Sebastian Vettel’s broken Aston Martin car.

Vettel had reported an MGU-K problem on his first foray around the track and promptly returned to pit lane for a check-up, but when he was deployed to the circuit little more than 10 minutes later his car lasted barely another lap before its Mercedes power unit failed on the start-finish straight, trailing fluid before griding to a halt at pit exit.

The Dutch fans were then treated to the bizarre scene of Vettel commandeering several track fire extinguishers, discharging them over the back of the smoking car with varying success and limited help from the marshals, who couldn’t touch the car because of indications it was electrified.

The session was eventually red flagged after a Ferrari zipped past the scene, coming worryingly close to a dangerous collision, allowing some Aston Martin mechanics to join the problematic recovery.

A team member equipped with hazard protection gear and rubber mats to enable him to test the car for electrical discharge took charge of the car and cleared it as safe, after which the machine was lifted off the track by a circuit vehicle.

The stoppage took 37 minutes to clear, leaving drivers with just six minutes to complete their practice programs. There was a rush to the end of the pit lane, and when the session went green the cars filtered out slowly in an unsuccessful attempt to space themselves out around the easily congested circuit.

With every running car now equipped with soft tires, the slate of installation-lap times was wiped clean, with Hamilton rising to the top. He bested Verstappen by just 0.097s although the Dutchman caught traffic in the final sector, while Ferrari teammates Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were around a tenth of a second adrift in third and fourth.

Valtteri Bottas finished fifth and 0.238s off the pace. Alpine teammates Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon followed, though Ocon risked a crash and a stewards investigation when he accidentally shoved Norris towards the grass run-off exiting Turn 12, having been watching an approaching Red Bull Racing car when the McLaren sped past.

Antonio Giovinazzi finished eighth for Alfa Romeo ahead of Lance Stroll in the sole surviving Aston Martin car.

Pierre Gasly was 10th for AlphaTauri and the first man over a second off the pace after dicing with Bottas and Mick Schumacher into the first turn late in the session, almost putting Bottas off the track.

Norris finished 11th after a mistake in the final sector put him over the gravel, with Nicholas Latifi and Kimi Raikkonen following him in the order.

Daniel Ricciardo was 14th in the second McLaren, with George Russell, Sergio Perez and Haas duo Nikita Mazepin and Schumacher behind him.

Vettel finished the session with just six laps to his name, while Yuki Tsunoda’s session comprised just three laps at the start of the hour — one of which featured a spin on cold tires at Turn 10 — before retiring to his garage.

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