George Russell topped first practice for the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort after Max Verstappen withdrew from the session with gearbox problems.
Verstappen was an early scratching form the hour-long session when his car ground to a halt at Turn 4. His Red Bull team then told him to park it as a precaution to protect the transmission, disappointing his throngs of home fans piled into the grandstands and causing a nine-minute red flag.
Nightmare start for Max 😱
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 2, 2022
Red Bull said the problem wasn’t thought to be terminal, meaning the Dutchman will likely be back on track in FP2 later today.
Mercedes filled the breach. Russell and teammate Lewis Hamilton left their performance runs on soft tires until late in the hour and rocketed up the order, the younger Briton taking top spot with a 0.24s advantage.
Hamilton was also a major contributor to the traffic problems around the narrow and twisty circuit, with multiple drivers complaining about his slow-moving car, particularly down the main straight and through the first sector, although no investigation was noted.
Carlos Sainz was Ferrari’s highest placed representative, lapping third fastest and 0.39s off the pace. Charles Leclerc was sixth and a further 0.3s behind his teammate.
Between the red cars slotted in McLaren teammates Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, 0.47s and 0.62s slower than Russell respectively. The papaya cars are much better suited to the flowing Zandvoort circuit than the high-speed Spa-Francorchamps; only Ricciardo taking a trip through the gravel at Turn 11 came close to spoiling the flying start to the weekend.
Sergio Perez was seventh after a scruffy session as the sole Red Bull Racing driver. The Mexican ran high and wide through the banked Turn 3 and flirted with the outside barrier, and a few laps later he understeered onto the grass on the outside of Turn 9 and came perilously close to making side-on impact with the wall. He ended the hour 0.96s off the pace.
Alpine followed in eighth and ninth, with Fernando Alonso leading Esteban Ocon, while Alex Albon completed the top 10 for Williams.
Mick Schumacher was 11th for Haas after an early excursion into the stones at Turn 11. The German was investigated for leaving pit lane during red flags, but the stewards found he didn’t have time to react to the red light closing pit lane before he rejoined the circuit.
Lance Stroll was 12th ahead of Kevin Magnussen, while Pierre Gasly beat Sebastian Vettel to 14th. Vettel was noted for appearing to impede Norris near the end of the hour.
Zhou Guanyu spent his first half-hour in the pits with an unspecified technical problem, leaving him with a paltry 16 laps in his first session at Zandvoort as a Formula 1 driver, but was quick enough for 16th by the end of the session.
Yuki Tsunoda followed ahead of Valtteri Bottas and the stopped Verstappen. Nicholas Latifi propped up the time sheet in 20th for Williams.