Sunday, September 24, 2023

Lewis Hamilton expects ‘close’ Dutch Grand Prix contest with Red Bull and McLaren at Zandvoort -Dlight News

Lewis Hamilton finished in the top four in both Practice One and Practice Two at Zandvoort and expects a close fight at the top of the grid; watch Dutch GP Qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 at 2pm on Saturday, with the race at 2pm on Sunday

Lewis Hamilton expects a “close” contest between Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren at the Dutch Grand Prix after an encouraging Friday at Zandvoort.

Hamilton was third fastest in Practice One and had more to give as an untimely red flag prevented him from going quicker.

He was fourth in Practice Two, 0.308s behind pace-setter Lando Norris but was Max Verstappen’s closest challenger on the long runs.

“P1 was a really good session from us. The car felt good from the get-go thanks to some good work from everyone in the factory,” said Hamilton.

“We made some changes from FP1 to FP2, which wasn’t as good. But it’s good data to have, so we have some work tonight to see if we can turn it around.

“But we are there or thereabouts. Not as quick as the Red Bulls and the McLarens are really quick.

“The Red Bulls are a little bit quicker as always. I don’t necessarily anticipate we will easily beat them, but I think we are going to be close.

“I want to get up as high as possible. It would be great to be in the top three, it just depends on the job we do tonight.”

On where Mercedes are losing out to McLaren, Hamilton added: “It’s a little bit everywhere. The McLaren was much quicker in the first sector than us, particularly on the long run the tyre is overheating, which I think everyone had.

“It’s about trying to make sure you extract the most out of your tyres and get them in the right window to start your lap. We have been slow in the first sector but good in the last sector, so just trying to find the right balance there.”

Norris: Tough decision for McLaren to make on setup

Norris was very impressive in second practice as he drove with confidence and pushed hard to set the fastest time of the afternoon to edge out Verstappen by 0.023s.

The British driver thinks Red Bull are still ahead and is not sure whether McLaren should compromise their one lap pace to ensure they are strong in the race.

“It is a tough decision. It is one we will have to make tonight,” explained Norris.

“Even if we qualify ahead of a Red Bull our race is not with them, they are way too fast. Even if I had the best tyre degradation I had ever had they would still overtake us.

“It is a difficult track to overtake on. I am not expecting an easy or straightforward one. A lot of people blocking and causing chaos today. We will see. I’m feeling good, especially with the low fuel I’m happy, with the high fuel not so much.”

Verstappen ‘feeling confident’ on home soil

Verstappen, who leads the championship by 125 points from Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, topped Practice One and his best lap in second practice was done after an initial flying lap on the softs.

He is confident Red Bull will be ahead of McLaren and Mercedes, admitting they have more to come.

“I think it was a pretty good day. We tried some things on the car,” said Verstappen.

“FP2 was a little bit more difficult but it was also difficult to get a clean lap. There were a lot more cars around.

“We have a few things we want to improve but even on the long run, the car was handling quite well. I feel good. The car has a lot of potential to have a good day. We just need to finetune a few things. I’m pretty confident we can be ahead.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Dutch GP schedule

10.15am: Dutch GP Practice Three (session starts 10.30am)
12.10pm: F2 Sprint Race
1.15pm: Dutch GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: Dutch GP Qualifying

8.55am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Dutch GP build-up
4pm: Chequered Flag: Dutch GP reaction
5.30pm: Dutch GP highlights

Formula 1 returns after the summer break with the Dutch GP and all sessions will be live on Sky Sports F1 from this Friday. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW for just £26 a month for 12 months. Cancel anytime

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