Lewis Hamilton fastest in heavily disrupted first practice session in Zandvoort

Lewis Hamilton finished fastest in a heavily disrupted opening practice session for the Dutch Grand Prix.

On Formula One’s return to Zandvoort following a 36-year absence, the one-hour action was suspended for 35 minutes after Sebastian Vettel’s engine blew up at the first corner.

The four-time world champion played the role of fireman as he helped the marshals put out the flames and FIA race director Michael Masi deployed the red flags.

But with Vettel’s Aston Martin showing as electrically live, it took more than half the session for his stricken car to be towed back to the pits.

The significant delay is a blow to the drivers, with valuable time lost in a bid to gather as much information as possible ahead of Sunday’s race – the first here since 1985.

While the lack of action is also a bad look for F1 bosses just five days after the farcical rain-hit Belgian Grand Prix which was stopped following only two laps behind the safety car.

The running eventually re-started with just six minutes on the clock and it was Hamilton who clocked the fastest time ahead of rival Max Verstappen.

Hamilton was just seven months old when F1 last raced in Holland with the former non-executive chairman of Mercedes, Niki Lauda who died in 2019, the winner.

Seventy thousand mostly Dutch fans are set to create a hostile reception for Hamilton.

But Hamilton drew first blood around the 2.65-mile track as he edged out his championship rival by just 0.097 seconds with the Ferrari pair of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc third and fourth respectively. Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished fifth in the other Mercedes.

In the frantic closing moments, Lando Norris had to take evasive action on the entrance to the right-hander Turn 13 after Esteban Ocon blocked the British driver.

“What is this guy doing,” said Norris. “He just pushed me off the track.” Norris finished 11th, 1.179 sec off the pace.

The second action of the day gets under way at 3pm local time.

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