Dutch Grand Prix – Libre 1: It starts very badly for Max Verstappen (Red Bull)!

National Grand Prix, orange crowd of the big days and the congratulations of the boss, Christian Horner: Max Verstappen. “Congratulations on this national decoration! What should we call you? Sir Max, Lord Max or ‘Super Max’?”the Red Bull Racing team principal asked him on his launch lap, Friday, during free practice 1. “Call me Max, as always!”replied, amused, the local hero, made a knight of the Orange-Nassau Order – equivalent to the Legion of Honor in France – on Thursday.

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He was right to savor these moments because a bad surprise awaited him in turn n°3, in the 9th of the 60 minutes of testing, where he immobilized his RB18 n°1, right in the middle of the track. We first believed in an alert as sometimes happens, but the problem was serious, as he was quick to reveal. “Something happened to the gearbox”he said, harnessed into his machine, as the cars continued to drive past him.

Russell on top ahead of Hamilton

Then, the replay of the on-board camera was clear: a loud noise accompanied his change from 4th to 5th gear, after turn 2… Transmission blocked, he got out of his single-seater to reach the paddock, located nearby .

Race management was slow to unfurl the red flag. After 9 minutes of interruption, the tests were able to resume.

It remains to know now the consequences on the rest of the weekend of the Dutchman.

At the end of this particular session, Mercedes achieved the two best lap times, with George Russell in 1’12″455 and Lewis Hamilton, in 0″240. Carlos Sainz set the third time for Ferrari, at 0″390, ahead of the McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, at 0″622 and 0″672 respectively.

During this hour of training, the drivers were able to drive for the first time with the DRS in the last banked corner (it was prohibited last year for safety reasons), and observe the layout of n°12 , where a strip of gravel one meter wide was fixed with resin, on the inside, to prevent the projection of stones.

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