Round 15 of the 2022 F1 World Championship sees the F1 circus return to Zandvoort for the Dutch GP, the home of World Champion and the Orange Army. After the summer break F1 returned to Spa in Belgium and the weekend was dominated by RedBull and Max Verstappen. This weekend is a completely different circuit and the field seems to be a lot closer after practice. Qualifying will be very important this weekend as overtaking is very difficult around the tight, twisty Zandvoort track.
As usual the 2 Haas cars enter the track first, all other teams seem happy to wait a little while before beginning their first runs. Magnussen was the quicker of the 2 Haas cars and they were followed by the 2 Williams of Albon and Latifi.
With 5 minutes of the session gone Max Verstappen left his garage to huge cheers from the Orange Army. If the crowd inspire him the way the British crowd used to inspire Nigel Mansell he could have pole by about 5 seconds today. His first timed lap is a 1.11.317, a second clear of his team mate in second. The two Ferraris then cross the line with Sainz in P2 nearly half a second behind and then Leclerc third over 0.8 seconds behind the Flying Dutchman. George Russell then puts his Mercedes into P2 with Lewis Hamilton right behind him in P3. The Mercedes seems to like the nature of the Dutch track with both drivers within a quarter of a second of the leading RedBull.
With 5 minutes remaining Leclerc puts the Ferrari into P2 just 0.126 from the fastest time so far. Only 3 cars are left on track as everyone pits for new fresh tyres and waits before they go out for their final run. Everyone crossing the line is improving with Tsunoda moving up to second in the Alpha Tauri just 0.110 behind Verstappen, he is then topped by Lewis Hamilton who is just 0.014 behind the RedBull. Out of Q1 are Bottas, Magnussen, Ricciardo, Vettel who went through the gravel on his quick lap and Latifi in the Williams.
As soon as Q2 begins the session is red flagged as a flare had been thrown onto the track. The race organisers had asked fans not to bring them into the circuit this weekend but obviously the free flowing Heinekken has got the better of one of the Orange Army.
As soon as the session resumes both RedBulls go out on track to get an early banker lap in. Verstappen does a 1.10.927, that’s 0.387 quicker than Perez in the sister RedBull. Lewis Hamilton then goes P2 with a time just 0.148 behind Verstappen. Russell is also in the top 4 with a time 3 tenths slower than his teammate. Alex Albon decides to start his final run earlier than everyone else and make use of a free track, he sets a time good enough for P10 currently.
With 2 and half minutes left everyone else decides now is the time to go out. 13 cars on track with just Albon and Verstappen staying in their garages. Charles Leclerc gets into the one-minute tens and moves to P2, once again most people are improving. Sainz moves to the top of the field with a 1.10.814 ahead of Russell by 0.010, they are followed by Verstappen, Leclerc, Hamilton, Norris, Perez, Stroll, Schumacher, and Tsunoda rounding out the top ten. Out after Q2 are Gasly, Ocon, Alonso who was complaining about traffic on his quick lap, Zhou and Albon.
And so to the shoot-out that is Q3, could we see a new pole sitter for this season, or does Max Verstappen have enough in hand to delight the home crowd? Verstappen is first out onto the circuit no doubt going for an early banker lap in case the session is interrupted by any incidents.
Verstappen sets a time of 1.10.515, Perez is half a second down on his teammate again but goes to P2. Norris in the McLaren goes P3 1.6 seconds behind the leading RedBull. Hamilton’s first timed lap is good enough for P2, just behind Verstappen, Leclerc then beats this in the Ferrari, 0.059 ahead of the RedBull. The top 10 after the first runs is Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton, Sainz, Perez, Russell, Norris, Tsunoda, Schumacher, and Stroll who is yet to set a time. The Canadian seems to have a technical issue with his Aston Martin and won’t be taking part in the rest of the session.
With exactly 3 minutes left the last runs are set to begin, Leclerc in his Ferrari first to the track. Another flare has been thrown onto the track but thankfully ran off the track so no delay to proceedings. As the drivers finish their laps, Verstappen moves to the top of the timings, Hamilton is on a quick lap but Perez has spun at the last corner but one and causes yellow flags meaning anyone behind on track won’t be able to improve. An anti-climax to the session end. The top ten was Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Hamilton, Perez, Russell, Norris, Scumacher, Tsunoda and Stroll.
The top 6 are a lot closer than last week so we could be in for a very close race tomorrow. The home crowed will be leaving the circuit tonight very happy and expecting a win from their hero tomorrow.