Five things learned after first day of F1 practice at Zandvoort
After a year of delay due to the covid pandemic, today the very much anticipated first day of practice for the Dutch F1 GP is already history.
Surprisingly we saw 2 Mercedes power units that gave up quite early this weekend. The first was the power unit in the back of Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin. The second Mercedes power unit that decided to call it a day was the unit in the back of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes.
Whether or not Hamilton has to use a 4th engine is yet to be seen. If that's the case the British champion will receive a 10 places grid penalty this Sunday and will have a hard day at the office to get to the podium on the 'narrow' Zandvoort circuit, where overtaking will be quite difficult in an F1 car.
5 things F1 learned after the first day of Dutch GP practice
- With just 20 minutes run of FP1 (following delays in recovering Sebastian Vettel's stricken Aston Martin) FP2 was the crucial session today, run at exactly the same time as qualifying and the race (15:00). Ferrari's Charles Leclerc went quickest in the session ahead of his team mate Carlos Sainz, with both cars using the P Zero Red soft C3 tyre to set their best times. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton topped the times in the short morning FP1 session.
- With Zandvoort returning to Formula 1 for the first time since 1985, the emphasis today was very much on learning the track and how the three hardest tyre compounds in the Pirelli range – selected for this weekend – interact with it.
- The afternoon FP2 session got underway in 25 degrees centigrade ambient and 30 degrees on track, with sunny weather. This session was also interrupted by two red flags, albeit for less than 15 minutes in total this time.
- As expected, the brand new track was quite 'green' all day before any rubber was laid down, with sand and gravel also pulled onto the track.
- The limited running today meant that the information about the tyre gaps is really only based on FP2. Between soft C3 and medium C2 there is a gap so far of 0.7 seconds, higher than an our initial estimation, while the gap between medium C2 and hard C1 is 0.6 seconds, based on our pre-event simulation (with not enough information available from the session).
Mario Isola – Head of F1 and car racing:
"There was at least one red flag during every session today – including Formula 3 free practice and qualifying – which obviously limited all the running and made it harder to draw any firm conclusions. It was also quite a dirty track, with sand and gravel on the surface.
However, the teams still managed to obtain some of the data that they needed on this unique and unforgiving new track – and this was useful preparation, as safety cars and red flags seem likely to be a possibility during the race as well. More work and information is needed tomorrow though in order to get a clearer idea of the optimal strategy. We managed to get a good idea of the gap between medium and soft today, while we do not yet have enough data to accurately predict the gap between medium and hard.
Despite the impressive banking at Zandvoort, the tyres are exactly the same as we bring to the other races, with the latest structure introduced from Silverstone designed to cope with even the heaviest loads."
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