ZANDVOORT, The Netherlands – Lando Norris proved in Friday practice that his McLaren upgrades are still working well, as the Briton clocked the fastest time of the day, with a 1:11:330 best time, ahead of practice one winner Max Verstappen and third place William’s driver Alex Albon.
On a warm afternoon, Norris set his quickest time midway through the session, as Verstappen could not find his pace, as the Dutchman is looking for his ninth consecutive victory, which would break the record set by Sebastian Vettel.
Albon set his best time and showed that he is still in the hunt for a good performance at this circuit, considering the changes that many other teams will make for the remainder of the weekend, which could bring a change of weather by race day.
Lewis Hamilton was fourth on a quiet day in his Mercedes, while Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda continued to improve and took fifth. Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, who does well at this circuit, was up in the top ten all afternoon and finished in an impressive sixth. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was not so impressive as his teammate Verstappen and was seventh. Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas ended up ninth, as the Two Aston Martin’s of Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso took eighth and tenth, respectively.
On a circuit that has many twists and turns like Monaco or the Hungaroring, the day at this seaside track had a few incidents as with 47 minutes remaining in the afternoon session, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri slid into the wall at the banking at turn three, bringing out the yellow flag in that sector. But the other Alpha Tauri of Daniel Ricciardo came quickly across that area and did not see his countryman or the caution sign, and to avoid a collision, swerved to the right and hit the barriers in the same section. Ricciardo in turn, injured his left hand in the incident. This brought out the red flag for about ten minutes, while both cars were removed from the circuit.
The other incident of the day occurred in the morning session as Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg beached his entry when he slid into the gravel at turn 13 just days after signing a new contract for the American team.
This might be the only chance for the drivers to get the set-ups right for this weekend’s race. But unfortunately, it could be for nothing as the weekend expects some rain, which could change things completely.
By Mark Gero