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Following the farcical non-race in Belgium, Formula One is embraced by sunshine and a sea of orange in the grandstands, as the sport returns to the Netherlands for the first time since 1985. Join The Roar from 10:50pm (AEST) for live blog updates of all the action.
The partisan crowd at the rollercoaster 4.2km Circuit Zandvoort are here to support only one driver this weekend. That man is Max Verstappen, who currently sits three points behind Lewis Hamilton in the championship.
With practice having been curtailed on Friday due to stoppages, including a power unit-related failure for Hamilton’s Mercedes, it was difficult to get a proper read on who had the upper hand on race pace.
Verstappen still had the superior qualifying speed, claiming a crucial pole position at a track where overtaking may be limited and in front of the roaring Dutch supporters in the grandstands.
0.038 seconds separated the Dutchman from title rival Hamilton on the front-row, while Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas heads up the second-row ahead of Pierre Gasly – who was best of the rest.
Shocking the field during Q3 was Antonio Giovinazzi, who appears to be out of a drive for 2022 and ended up equalling his best qualifying result for Alfa Romeo with seventh, just behind the Ferraris.
His teammate Kimi Räikkönen announced ahead of the weekend that he would be retiring from Formula One at season’s end; however, he ended up withdrawing from the event on pre-qualifying after testing positive for COVID-19. Alfa Romeo therefore have called upon reserve driver Robert Kubica for his first race since 2019.
Overtaking opportunities may only be limited to the Suzuka-esqe Turn 1, aptly named the ‘Tarzan Corner’. There may yet be a strategic element to this race, with a two-stopper preferred given the predicted tyre wear on the left side.
This may gift Ferrari the opportunity to gain back crucial points in the championship on McLaren, with Daniel Ricciardo the best placed of the papaya cars in tenth. Even Alpine were quicker, led by Esteban Ocon in eighth.
With the support of the partisan crowd and a chance to take back the lead of the championship, it is difficult to look beyond Verstappen to take the honours in his home race. But can Hamilton and Mercedes spoil the party and douse the orange flares in the grandstands?
Having missed this race last year due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, the excitement is electrifying as we get set for the Dutch Grand Prix. Be sure to tune in on The Roar from 10:50pm (AEST) for live blog updates.
Lights out: 11pm (AEST)
Venue: Circuit Zandvoort, Netherlands
TV: Fox Sports
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), 4. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), 5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), 6. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), 7. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine), 9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine), 10. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), 11. George Russell (Williams), 12. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), 13. Lando Norris (McLaren), 14. Nicholas Latifi (Williams), 15. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), 16. Sergio Perez (Red Bull), 17. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin), 18. Robert Kubica (Alfa Romeo), 19. Mick Schumacher (Haas), 20. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)