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Dutch GP: Leclerc fastest in FP2 as Hamilton hits trouble

Dutch GP: Leclerc fastest in FP2 as Hamilton hits trouble

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With 21 minutes of the hour-long session remaining at Zandvoort, Leclerc became the first and only driver to dip under the 1m11s barrier as he ran to the top of the timing screens.

The Ferrari driver posted a 1m10.902s benchmark to depose Ocon before Leclerc was swiftly joined by teammate Carlos Sainz, who ran to second and was 0.154s adrift.

It marked a full sixth-tenth gain over Hamilton’s yardstick in the first morning practice run.

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The start of the afternoon session was delayed by five minutes, although the full run time was still permitted, and Kimi Raikkonen was the first driver out on track.

He was chased by Sergio Perez and Nikita Mazepin as all drivers, bar both McLarens, Williams, Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly (C1, hards) opted for the yellow C2 tyres to begin with.

Raikkonen guided his Alfa Romeo over the line in 1m14.256s but was swiftly knocked back by the Red Bull of Perez by seven tenths.

Valtteri Bottas then settled at the topped of the times after just four minutes, taking his Mercedes around in 1m11.66s to find four tenths over the Ferraris.

Hamilton’s first run was completed in 1m11.911s and he climbed to second, but his day was ended soon after when he brought out the red flags after only six minutes.

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Hamilton reported a power loss, ostensibly due to an oil feed irregularity, and was instructed to stop his Mercedes at the Turn 8 right-hander at the far side of the track, which was met with a cheer from the grandstands.

Hamilton’s car was pushed into an escape road and the session resumed after an eight-minute delay, but the seven-time champion would not resume, and he was pushed down to 11th.

Sainz had led the queue in the pitlane as the field awaited the green light before Ocon and Red Bull’s home favourite Max Verstappen rapidly moved to second and third behind Bottas.

A minute later, Sebastian Vettel returned to the circuit with 45 minutes to run after a suspected ERS failure in opening practice had created a protracted spell on the sidelines.

With 39 minutes to go, and likely in response to the truncated running for Hamilton, Bottas was switched over early to the C3 red-walled soft tyres to commence the qualifying runs.

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The Finn ran to a 1m11.664s to reaffirm his advantage at the top of the times before Alpine racer Ocon posted an impressive flying lap that registered a 1m11.074s.

Despite the renewed efforts of Mercedes driver Bottas, he could only bring the deficit to Ocon down to 0.058s as Alonso moved to third ahead of Pierre Gasly.

Alonso ran 0.495s in arrears of his pacesetting teammate before a second red flag interrupted running.

Mazepin created the second stoppage at the halfway point of the session when he lost the rear of his Haas on the entry to the 90-degree right of Turn 11 and beached the car in the gravel.

The Ferraris rapidly climbed to the head of the field at the resumption, but the interrupted programme led to a comparatively early end to the qualifying simulations.

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That left Leclerc to lead Sainz and Ocon as Bottas ran to fourth over Verstappen, who ended the day with a best time of 1m11.264s to sit 0.362s adrift of the Ferraris.

But the bulk of the running for Verstappen was dedicated to race runs, and he consistently delivered 1m15.1 to 1m15.4s during the closing quarter of an hour.

Alonso and Gasly were gradually shuffled back to sixth and seventh, while Norris moved to softs to beat the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi to eighth place.

Vettel recovered some lost ground as he delivered 10th, with Hamilton’s early run enough to hold off 12th fastest Sergio Perez.

George Russell, who scored his maiden F1 podium at Spa last weekend, ran slowest with a 1m12.955s effort aboard his Williams.

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