Max Verstappen picked up where he left off by posting the fastest time in opening practice for the Dutch Grand Prix.
Verstappen, who has won 10 of the 12 rounds so far and will match Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine consecutive victories if he triumphs again on Sunday, finished 0.278 seconds clear of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.
Lewis Hamilton took third spot for Mercedes, three tenths adrift of Verstappen, with Sergio Perez fourth in the other Red Bull.
Verstappen dominated the opening half of the Formula One season to establish a 125-point championship lead in his pursuit of a third straight world title.
On Thursday, Hamilton raised the prospect of the Dutchman winning all of the remaining 10 rounds, and on the evidence of the first running, he will head into the weekend in front of an expectant Zandvoort crowd as the clear favourite to continue his commanding streak.
For Hamilton, the seven-time world champion said his goal for the second half of the season is to finish runner-up in the drivers’ standings.
The 38-year-old is currently fourth, 41 points behind Perez, who occupies second spot, and he will be relatively pleased with his opening salvo. Mercedes team-mate George Russell finished 11th, the best part of a second down.
Haas announced ahead of this weekend’s race that Nico Hulkenberg will be retained for a second term with the American team.
But the veteran German crashed out of practice after losing control of his machine through the penultimate corner. With his Haas beached in the gravel, the running was suspended.
Over at Ferrari, Charles Leclerc was only 16th, three spots ahead of Robert Shwartzman, a junior driver for the Italian team who stood in for Carlos Sainz for first practice.
McLaren driver Lando Norris finished sixth, one place behind Williams’ Alex Albon.
Published: by Radio NewsHub