Lewis Hamilton admits he will go into the rest of the Dutch Grand Prix weekend on the back foot after an engine issue curtailed his afternoon session on Friday after only three laps.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver had topped the morning session at the Circuit Zandvoort and was hoping for more speed in the afternoon, but he was forced to pull over early on with a technical issue that caused a red flag.
Hamilton says the car had been feeling good throughout the laps he did manage through the day, and with team-mate Valtteri Bottas having a very productive afternoon in comparison, the seven-time World Champion feels he can go into the weekend with at least some confidence.
“This track is epic. It brought back so many memories when I first got out there, from when I drove here before,” said Hamilton. “I knew it was great when I was in Formula 3, but in a Formula 1 car it is just something else.
“It’s a shame I couldn’t complete more running, but the loss of power cut my FP2 short quite early on. I’ve got some catching up to do and we need to investigate the issue in more detail, but it’s not the end of the world.
“The car wasn’t feeling too bad, in the limited running I had, and Valtteri had a productive FP2, so we’ll have plenty of learnings to take from that. It was amazing to see the crowd here today, there were so many people out there and the Dutch fans bring so much energy.
“I hope it’s a great weekend for everyone.”
“The margins look small, which is nice to see” – Valtteri Bottas
Team-mate Bottas felt it was a good day on his side of the garage, with the Finn ending inside the top five in both free practice sessions.
The disrupted first session – which was red flagged for thirty-seven minutes after Sebastian Vettel stopped on track – saw him end fifth fastest, while he improved to fourth in the afternoon, just 0.230 seconds off the best time of the day set by Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Bottas is expecting the tight margins seen on Friday to continue across the weekend, but he feels Mercedes have the potential to be right at the front of the field when it matters.
“Overall, it was a good day for me, and I enjoyed it out on track,” said Bottas. “It’s an exciting track to drive, with all the banked corners and high-speed sections. It’s got a nice flow and it’s fairly easy to settle into a rhythm.
“I’m sure tomorrow in Qualifying will be even more fun. It was quite a disrupted day with a lot of red flags, but even so, I got quite a lot of laps in, particularly in FP2 where we did some proper running on both single lap and long runs.
“I’m sure we have plenty of data to go through. The margins look small, which is nice to see, so everything is possible.”