Dutch GP to watch: Mixed Mercedes and more overtaking opportunities

From the three-way battle for victory, to McLaren trying to reclaim points against Alpine, and Mick Schumacher chasing a top 10 finish, to the unique DRS zone, we covered some key areas. Going out to Zandvoort…

1. The important opening lap

A week ago, we stressed that the first start at Spa-Francorchamps may not be the most important aspect of the opening lap, but instead the long drag to Les Combes. Well, in Zandvoort, the battle is likely to end a little earlier than that.

READ MORE: Verstappen beats Leclerc by 0.021s to take pole position at Zandvoort

This is because overtaking is difficult on Dutch tracks as there are no long straights and without the help of DRS you have little chance of overtaking other drivers.

The key point of the opening lap is therefore the moment when the lights go out and the drag race takes place all the way to Turn 1. At Turn 1, the inside drivers have a high position but are more threatened than usual from the outside due to banking. at the opening corner.

However, two cars can go through the first corner side by side, and while it can be tight at the second corner, extreme banking can give one a better exit than the other. It’s turn 3 that really sorts out the position because it’s high. Heading to the next sweeping complex to finish the first sector.

2022 Dutch Grand Prix Qualifying: Max Verstappen takes pole position again at his home Grand Prix

2. Mercedes in the mix

It’s not just Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in the front row that are interesting. Because, so far this weekend, the performances of the top three teams have been pretty evenly matched.

Verstappen took pole position by just 0.021s on the last lap of qualifying, with Carlos Sainz within 0.1s. However, the two Mercedes his drivers never got a chance to complete the last attempt as Sergio PĂ©rez spun at the final corner and was forced to abandon. .

READ MORE: Hamilton and Russell hope to battle Ferrari and Red Bull on Sunday after ‘unfortunate’ end of Zandvoort qualifying

Lewis Hamilton felt he could have targeted the front row, but instead lined up for fourth, a hybrid between Ferrari and Red Bull given the strong race pace Silver Arrows have shown so far this weekend.

The start above is particularly important for Mercedes’ hopes, but with the race looking like a close call between a one-stop and two-stop strategy, Hamilton and teammate George Russell could start from sixth. I have. Forward.

Hamilton thought he had a front row chance in qualifying

3. Norris against Alpine

Right behind Russell on the grid is Lando Norris’ Reed McLaren. Both McLaren and Mercedes have so far enjoyed a much more competitive weekend than their last at Spa He-Francorchamps.

It was a particularly important result for Norris, as both Alpine drivers failed to reach Q3, starting in 12th and 13th respectively.

READ MORE: Norris wants ‘lonely’ Dutch GP after qualifying P7 as Ricciardo reveals cause of Q1 end

Daniel Ricciardo’s struggles continued at Zandvoort, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo dropping out in Q1, leaving Norris to close the 20-point gap McLaren gave Alpine in the fight for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship. Expectations are high.

The start is crucial to Norris’ hopes, considering he lined up ahead of Mick Schumacher, Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll. If he loses position when the lights go out.

It’s up to Norris to reduce Alpine’s lead over McLaren in points on Sunday’s race

4. Mick Schumacher makes Top 8

Norris races for the McLaren team, which has just confirmed its driver line-up for 2023, but in the fourth row alongside him is someone facing an uncertain future.

Mick Schumacher had to face a tough rookie season at Haas last year, but after a challenging opening into 2022, he scored his first points at Silverstone and Austria earlier this summer. His potential was sparked when he got it. Haas are scoreless in his three races and at the same time Schumacher will need more points as his position with the team after the end of the year is in question.

Watch: Schumacher admits Q3 advance at Zandvoort was ‘unexpected’

Against this backdrop, it was a well-timed performance that saw the 2020 Formula 2 champion secure a top eight starting position and comfortably overtake team-mate Kevin Magnussen, who is 18th on the grid. did.

If Schumacher can turn just the third starting spot in his Formula 1 career into points, he could convince Haas to continue for a third year as Gunther Steiner and Gene Haas are weighing their driver options. sex may increase. market in the coming weeks.

Schumacher’s third quarter performance was perfectly timed as he faces questions about his future at Haas.

5. Main DRS Zone

The Zandvoort circuit is a firm favorite with drivers due to the nature of its undulating layout and the many sloping corners that offer a unique challenge on the F1 calendar. But if there was one area that could have been improved after returning to last year’s schedule, it was with the potential for overtaking.

The lack of long straights makes it difficult to try to move, but the 2022 cars are easier to track and a specific change to one of the DRS zones has resulted in a better spectacle up front this year. is expected to be seen.

In contrast to the usual approach of having DRS zones only on straight sections (or sections with minimal turns), the heavily banked final corner at Zandvoort allows drivers to open DRS before the right-hand corner. offered the possibility. Extra grip to compensate for downforce loss.

Highlights: See the action from qualifying at Zandvoort as Verstappen narrowly beats Leclerc

This means a much longer DRS zone than last year’s race, which the drivers believe should help create a more exciting race.

“I think there is a combination of these cars that are a little easier to follow than last year, plus a few hundred meters more DRS, which should definitely make it easier than last year,” said Sainz. . “It’s still a very difficult track to overtake, so it won’t be easy, but hopefully it won’t be as tough as last year.”

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