Grand Prix of Holland – Qualifying

As much as people often want a wet race, because it makes things less predictable, I don’t think anyone wants one as wet as the GP of Belgium last week!
In case you missed it, there was a post-race penalty for STR – he finished P18 so adding 10 seconds means he’s classified P20 but it makes no real difference.

Since Sunday the main news has been RAI’s retirement and the various (rumoured) driver changes, the biggest one being whether BOT or RUS will be #2 to HAM next season.

It’s the first F1 GP at Zandvoort since 1985 – the Dutch Grand Prix was meant to be here last year but was cancelled due to COVID. The circuit is notable for the banked turns 3 and 14 – I wonder how this affects the suspension and front wing setups. Also, the pit lane is quite tight – there’s a metre less space between pit boxes than at Adelaide

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: HAM (1:11.500), VER, SAI, LEC, BOT, ALO, OCO, GIO, STR, GAS
    TSU spins – is he trying to steal MAZ’s reputation?
    OCO spun too
    VET reports an engine problem; limps back to the pits but soon returns to the track
    VET’s Aston Martin seems to have an engine problem; he parks on the grass; he grabs a fire extinguisher and puts out the engine fire
    Red flags because of VET’s incident – FP1 suspended for a while as the car was live and obviously no-one wants to be electrocuted
    NOR sweeps past a Red Bull but finds OCO moving left across the track; NOR tries to pass him but OCO keeps moving left and NOR has to take to the grass
    BOT, GAS & SCH battle for track position to put in some quick laps
    After FP1, the stewards have given OCO a warning (not even a reprimand) for pushing NOR onto the grass

  2. FP2: LEC (1:10.902), SAI, OCO, BOT, VER, ALO, GAS, NOR, GIO, VET
    Air temperature 20°C; track 34°C
    Oh dear – start of FP2 is delayed! (Haven’t heard why)
    Green lights 5 mins later – FP2 underway
    HAM reports a loss of power; he’s told to stop
    HAM parks at the side of the track; red flags – FP2 suspended for a couple of minutes while the Mercedes is recovered
    VER is on a quick lap but MAZ is stuck deep in the gravel trap at Turn 11 – red flags again
    VER whines “I just can’t get a lap in”
    The Ferrari pair top the timing sheet – this weekend is LEC’s 50th GP with Ferrari
    BOT seems to be struggling for rear grip
    SCH touches the gravel but gets his Haas back on track
    OCO advised that Turn 7, “the front-left is getting a hard time”
    Mercedes say HAMs engine had an “abnormal oil system parameter”
    VER is under investigation for passing STR under red flag conditions

    Pre-FP3 news: RAI has tested positive for COVID-19 so Robert Kubica (#88) takes his seat in the Alfa Romeo
    The stewards have decided not to penalise VER but their explanation seems to miss the issue – another example of inconsistency which leads to accusations of favouritism [FIA]

  3. FP3: VER (1:09.623), BOT, HAM, PER, ALO, NOR, STR, VET, LEC, GAS
    SAI lost the rear of his Ferrari coming out of Turn 2, putting it backwards into the tyre wall in Turn 3; red flags suspend FP3
    NOR had a quick trip through the gravel at Turn 9
    VET did the same in Turn 10
    KUB finished P19 in his first run in the Alfa Romeo in months

30mins before Q1; Ferrari mechanics are busy rebuilding SAI’s car; it sounds like he won’t need a new gearbox
Mercedes have been changing brakes and wings on HAM’s car

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Air temperature 18°C; track 35°C; humidity 62%; wind 19km/hr
Green light
MAZ and SCH are first to leave the pits
SCH 1:12.741
TSU 1:11.947
LAT 1:11.699
VER heading out on soft, but HAM is on mediums
PER 1:10.700
VER 1:10.036
(HAM P2)
ALO pushing hard, has a moment but keeps his foot down; ends up P6
HAM improves his time but still P2
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are STR, SCH, VET, KUB, MAZ
Radio for SAI telling him they expect “one second track evolution” – that seems a lot and would mean even the top times are in jeopardy
VET P12, relegating RUS to P16
RUS P5, RIC P16
STR P16
HAM and BOT are on track
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are STR, RIC, SCH, KUB, MAZ
LEC 1:09.829
(SAI P2)
RIC P6, GIO P16
GIO P4, OCO P16
KUB P18
STR P11, VET P16
OCO P7, NOR P16
NOR P15, PER P16
Replay shows VET on a quick lap, blocked by MAZ because there was a queue
Incident involving VET and MAZ will be investigated after the session
Back of the grid: PER, VET, KUB, SCH, MAZ

Qualifying session 2
HAM and BOT re-use the softs that they had for that final lap of Q1
LAT 1:11.161
VER 1:09.071
(RUS P2)
(BOT P2)
(HAM P2)
(LEC P2)
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are RUS, STR, NOR, LAT, TSU
RUS loses the tail of his Williams, spins backwards across the gravel and tags the tyre wall – Yellow flags … Red flag – Q2 suspended with 3:54 left on the clock
RUS kept the car going and made it back to the pits, so he might be able to rejoin Q2 if the team can fix any issues on the car
The marshals are clearing up the gravel and checking the tyre wall
Session will restart at 15:46 local time
LAT is at the front of the queue waiting at the pit exit
RUS is out of the car, so he won’t run again
Green light; Q2 resumes with time for just one quick lap
LAT off backwards – big impact with the tyre wall – immediate red flag
That’s a busy night for both sides of the Williams garage
Q2 won’t restart
Middle of the grid: RUS, STR, NOR, LAT, TSU

The start of Q3 has been delayed as they clean up after LAT’s incident
Red Bull ask Michael Masi to look at Mercedes for holding the tyre blankets on HAM’s car for too long
Top 10 shootout will be between VER, LEC, GAS, HAM, BOT, RIC, SAI, OCO, ALO and GIO
Q3 will start at 16:07 local time
Meanwhile Sky Sports interview VET and MAZ about their Q1 incident; MAZ blames his team and his teammate – that’s not going to make him very popular

Qualifying session 3
RIC is first on track; they’re already taking their time rolling along the pit exit, trying to open a gap
RIC 1:10.524
GIO 1:10.216
VER 1:08.923
ALO P2
OCO P5
BOT P2
HAM P3
LEC P4
SAI P5
GAS P4
Order after first run: VER, BOT, HAM, GAS, LEC, SAI, ALO, GIO, RIC, OCO
Pit for new soft tyres
ALO very slow in the pit lane; VER complains about “standing still in the pit lane”
LEC P4
Chequered flag
GAS P4
OCO P7
GIO P7
ALO P9
VER 1:08.885
RIC P10
BOT P2
HAM P2
Front of the grid: VER, HAM, BOT, GAS, LEC, SAI, GIO, OCO, ALO, RIC

Interviews:
VER: “It’s an amazing feeling to get pole position here. The crowd is incredible, the car is really nice to drive and this track as well – it’s really cool. It’s the best starting position, as passing will be difficult. Today was good, so I hope we can finish it off tomorrow.”
HAM: “So close. First I just want to say a big thank you to all the orange fans here, what an amazing venue and track. I love coming to this country. Max did an amazing lap, yesterday’s session missed made it difficult but I gave it everything. I think strategy will come into it but to see a crowd like this – we haven’t seen a crowd like this for a while. I hope the track let’s us provide a good race, it’s a very tough circuit.”
BOT: “It’s definitely an enjoyable track, with a good atmosphere so it’s been fun. Red Bull were a bit out of reach today but two cars in the top three, still all to play for. Race start is always an opportunity.”

Provisional grid: VER, HAM, BOT, GAS, LEC, SAI, GIO, OCO, ALO, RIC, RUS, STR, NOR, LAT, TSU, PER, VET*, KUB, SCH, MAZ*
*Incident involving VET and MAZ will be investigated after the session

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up] [Points standings]

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