Dutch F1 GP: Ferrari leads the dance in testing, Verstappen stumbles

On the lands of Max Verstappen, it is Ferrari who regales: Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz achieved the best times on Friday in the last free practice of the day in F1 in the Netherlands, keeping the Red Bull at a distance.

If the Monegasque and his teammate Sainz held in just 4/1000th in free practice 2, the Scuderia drivers mainly kept the Red Bulls at a distance, starting with that of the Dutchman Max Verstappen, a solid leader in the championship, but only 8th fastest in the last practice session.

« The balance (of the car) was not good », regretted « Mad Max ». « Today wasn’t great, but we’ll look into everything tonight, we can definitely do better than that, » he once promised.

Faced with an orange tide all won over to the cause of his national hero Max Verstappen, the Dutchman is ahead of his Mexican teammate Sergio Pérez, 12th in practice on Friday evening.

During the first free practice earlier today, the reigning world champion had been forced, in front of his home crowd, to stay in the garage for most of the allotted time (one hour) due to a problem with his gearbox. .

But more fear than harm for the local of the event, who was able to resume the track from the second session.

Before this 15th round of a season of 22 Grands Prix, 93 points separate Verstappen and Pérez, his pursuer in the championship – more than three jokers in advance, knowing that a race is worth a maximum of 26 points (including one point for the best lap on the track).

– The well-placed Mercedes –

On the coastal circuit of Zandvoort, the Ferraris thus respond to the two Mercedes of the British George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, authors of the best times earlier in the afternoon.

« We are not that far behind » the competition, reacted Hamilton after a complicated last weekend for the silver arrows in Belgium.

At the end of the day, the seven-time world champion in the category snatched the 3rd fastest time, Russell the 5th.

On the French side, Alpine managed to hold its own, Spaniard Fernando Alonso (7th in the 2nd session) and Frenchman Esteban Ocon (9th) entering the Top 10. Pierre Gasly, the other Frenchman on the grid, took the 16th time at the wheel of his AlphaTauri.

Outside the circuits, it was another matter that came to shake up the paddock in the afternoon, with the official arrival of Oscar Piastri at McLaren in 2023 for his first season in F1.

The 21-year-old Australian had been at the heart of a legal imbroglio between Formula 1 teams McLaren and Alpine since early August.

If the two teams claimed to have a contract with Piastri for next season, the contract recognition office (CRB) of F1, an ad hoc arbitration body, ruled and ruled in favor of the Briton to the detriment of the Frenchwoman, in an FIA statement released on Friday.

Considered a great hope for Formula 1, Piastri will team up with Briton Lando Norris, replacing his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo who, for the time being, does not have a seat for next season.

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