Dutch Grand Prix

F1 returned to Holland on Sunday 5th September for the first time since 1985.  Round 13 was held at Zandvoort in front of packed stands throughout the weekend, all supporting Max Verstappen.

It was 13,159 days since Niki Lauda won here in a McLaren.

FP1 – Friday 3rd September’s practice was seriously curtailed, initially by spins for Tsunada (Alpha Tauri) and Ocon (Alpine) before Vettel’s car stopped on the track with 40 minutes of the session left and could not be recovered quickly. Red flag applied and no further laps completed until Vettel’s Aston Martin was recovered with 5 minutes of the session remaining.

Hamilton (Mercedes) was fastest in the session in 1m 11.5sec with Verstappen (Red Bull) close behind.

FP2 – Friday – 6 minutes in, the session was red flagged when Hamilton (Mercedes) stopped on the track.  It took 10 minutes to clear. After the restart Mazapin (Haas) dumped his car in the gravel causing another stoppage.  Following a second restart Leclerc (Ferrari) went fastest in 1m 10.902sec.  Followed by Sainz (Ferrari), Bottas (Mercedes), Verstappen (Red Bull) and Alonso (Alpine) all within a half second of each other.

FP3 – Saturday – 20 minutes in Sainz put his Ferrari into barriers at turn 3. This caused another session suspension which when resumed produced no further incidents.  Verstappen was quickest followed by Bottas and Hamilton.

QualifyingRaikkonen out with COVID and replaced with Kubica. The only off road excursion was in Q2 when Latifi (Williams) went into the barriers on turn 13.

Top positions

Verstappen 1min 08.885sec.

2nd Hamilton

3rd Bottas

Race Day

The 72 lap race followed recent Grand Prix form with Verstappen leading from start to finish with Hamilton 2nd and Bottas 3rd. Very little overtaking took place, as with short straights DRS was fairly ineffective. Hamilton took fastest lap for the extra point so the standings were: 1 Verstappen 224 points, 2nd Hamilton 222 points, 3rd Bottas 123 points.

Italian Grand Prix – Monza – Sunday 12th September

Track 3.6 miles/5.8 km. Top average speed 160mph/257km/hr

Race track record – 1min 21.046secs – Rubens Barrichello 2004

Raikkonen still out with COVID and Kubica deputising.

FP1 – Friday – Hamilton (Mercedes) fastest from Verstappen (Red Bull) and Bottas (Mercedes).  No major incidents.

Sprint Race Qualifying – also on Friday

Gasly (crash) and Kubica (spin) caused delays and ultimately qualifying was completed with 1 – Bottas, 2 – Verstappen, 3 – Ricciardo (McLaren).

FP2 – Saturday – Sainz (Ferrari) spun causing a 12 minute hold-up.  The session ended with 1 – Hamilton, 2 – Bottas, 3 – Verstappen.

Sprint Race – Saturday

1 – Bottas (3 points), 2 – Verstappen (2 points), 3 – Ricciardo (1 point)

Vestappen now leads Hamilton by 5 points in the drivers’ championship.

Bottas will start the race last on the grid following an engine change penalty.

Grand Prix – Sunday

Ricciardo took the lead from the start shortly before a virtual safety car as several cars were damaged by turn 3. Both Alfa Tauris out by lap 5. Lap 25 Verstappen attempted to overtake Hamilton at turn 1 when Hamilton was exiting the pit lane and the resulting accident ended with Hamilton’s car in the gravel and Verstappen’s on top of it!! The driver’s halo saved Hamilton from injury or worse and Verstappen was penalised post-race for causing it, penalty to be applied at Russian Grand Prix).

Result:

1stRicciardo (McLaren’s first win since 2012) plus fastest lap at 1min 24.812sec

2ndNorris (McLaren)

3rdBottas

Russian Grand Prix at Sochi – Sunday 26th September

Track 3.634 miles/5.848 km with 18 turns.

Top average speed 136.6mph/209.8km/hr

Lap record Hamilton 1min 35.761sec in 2020

Leclerc (Ferarri) and Verstappen (Red Bull) start at back of the grid due to engine limits being exceeded.

FP1 – 1st Bottas (Mercedes), 2nd Hamilton (Mercedes), 3rd Verstappen.  No major incidents

FP2 – 1st Bottas, 2nd Hamilton, 3rd Gasly (Alfa Tauri)

FP3 cancelled due to heavy rain.

QualifyingHamilton crashed in pit lane due to heavy rain and also spun off on final lap.

1st Norris (McLaren)

2nd Sainz (McLaren)

3rd Russell (Williams)

Race

Sainz lead from the start, followed by Norris.  By lap 11, Verstappen was up to 12th following a series of overtaking manoeuvres.

Following the round of pit stops between laps 27 and 29, the weather started to become a factor and by lap 51, with just a few laps to go, the heavens opened! Hamilton was able to get wet-weather tyres, whilst Norris, in the lead, spun off on slicks and effectively lost a certain win.

Final result

1st Hamilton (his 100th win)

2nd Verstappen

3rd Sainz

Fastest lap – Norris lap 39 – 1min 37.423sec.