Carlos Sainz Jr and Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit Zandvoort, 2022

Ferrari pair eye split strategies to maximise their threat to Verstappen

2022 Dutch Grand Prix pre-race analysis

Posted on

| Written by

In order to bring the historic Zandvoort circuit up to the high standards demanded to be able to revive the Dutch Grand Prix, millions of Euros worth of renovations were required to transform the track’s infrastructure, pit lane, grandstands and more.

But after qualifying for the second grand prix to be held around the revised venue, Charles Leclerc could be forgiven for cursing the circuit’s operators for not shortening the track’s layout by 80 metres. Because it was only over that short distance at the end of the 4.259 kilometre lap that Max Verstappen dipped beneath the Ferrari driver’s lap time as the pair sprinted to the chequered flag at the end of Q3.

Verstappen’s second home pole position in as many attempts was a remarkable turnaround for Red Bull after he missed most of first practice and ended Friday nearly seven-tenths of a second slower than his Ferrari rival. But it was also just as much a missed opportunity for Leclerc, who had been at least a quarter of a second faster than Verstappen until losing most of that advantage through turns nine and ten in the middle sector.

Verstappen only edged ahead of Leclerc at the end of his lap
After being told by his team that Verstappen had beaten him to pole by just 0.021 seconds – the tightest margin of the season – Leclerc, not for the first time this season, let out a shout of frustration. He had to admit his surprise that a relatively minor error had been enough for him to lose pole to his rival after their comparative pace leading up to Saturday afternoon.

“Obviously you always targeting to be on pole and, looking at my lap, in turn ten I did a mistake,” said Leclerc. “To be honest, looking at the gap with Max today, I did not expect that coming into Q3.”

A home pole position is always one to savour, but making his 100,000-plus fans in attendance roar with delight after being so far off from Ferrari to start the weekend was especially satisfying for the man on a seemingly unstoppable charge to a second world championship.

“It was a special qualifying, especially after yesterday,” Verstappen said.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“It was really tough, we had to change the car around quite a bit, because we didn’t really have any information. Basically this morning was still about learning quite a bit of the car and all about just trying to fine-tune it a bit towards qualifying.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Circuit Zandvoort, 2022
Perez’s spin has left him needing a strong start
“When I started my lap, I felt like the tyres were not really switched on, but I managed to recover a bit in sector two and that was just enough for pole.”

After back-to-back races with Verstappen starting out of position down the field, this weekend he will start with both Ferraris directly behind him for the first time since the Austrian Grand Prix, where Ferrari had the upper hand in the race and out-paced Verstappen to victory. Starting third, Carlos Sainz Jnr is hopeful Sunday’s race will play out more like it did at the Red Bull Ring.

“In qualifying, we’ve been within a tenth of each other,” he said. “So in the race, if it’s like that for 70 laps, it’s going to be a tight race.

“Normally, the Red Bull lately on Sundays – together with Mercedes – seem to have something there that we haven’t had recently. But if we go back to France and Austria, we had something on Sunday. So hopefully it is more like those two races and we can challenge Max during the whole race.”

But unlike the Red Bull Ring with its minimal corners and long straights, there are far fewer opportunities to pass at Zandvoort. Although an extended DRS zone for this year may help, the start could be even more vital than typical this season.

Formula 2 driver Marcus Armstrong showed that starting on the dirty side of the grid – as Leclerc will on Sunday – is not necessarily a disadvantage, as he leapt into the lead of the sprint race, but Ferrari are well aware that Verstappen has the benefit of an extra set of fresh soft tyres to help him get the best possible launch off the line.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“Obviously Max with a new set of softs is going to be strong whenever he uses it,” said Sainz. “Because here from scrubbed to new [tyres], at least for our car, is quite a bit of a difference as the degradation is very high.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Zandvoort, 2022
Mercedes may finally have a shot at victory
Pirelli believe that a one-stop strategy starting on the softs and switching to the hard tyres is perfectly viable, but admit it will leave one-stoppers marginal for tyre wear over their two stints. A two stop is considered the fastest route to the chequered flag by the tyre supplier, but requires two sets of unused mediums – which Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes all have at their disposal.

With both Ferraris starting behind Verstappen, the team could opt to split their strategies to give Verstappen and his elite strategists on the Red Bull pit wall a headache during the race. Both Leclerc and Sainz believe this is the way to go. “Let’s see after the first few laps,” Leclerc said, “but probably splitting the cars is a good thing to do when we are in this situation.”

Sainz expects everyone will have challenges keeping their tyres in good working order over the course of the race. “It is very tough out there, especially with these heavier cars,” he said. “The track is really demanding on the tyres, we have a lot of overheating in the lap, a lot of degradation even in the long runs.

“So I think tomorrow is going to be interesting. There’s going to be a lot going on, even if it’s a difficult track to overtake, there’s going to still be many options with the strategies.”

But it would be wrong to ignore the presence of Mercedes. After falling back into purgatory in Spa, both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell may have been far closer to front row on the times sheets had it not been for the effect Sergio Perez’s spin had on their final flying laps. With Hamilton starting fourth on the grid, he is confident that Sunday should be a more enjoyable race for Mercedes.

“I’m definitely optimistic,” said Hamilton. “I’ve not done a long run but George did and it looked quite good. The car was feeling strong today and I felt like I could go quicker, so I hope that translates to tomorrow. But I’ll definitely be pushing as hard as I can to get a podium.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

His team mate Russell, however, does not quite seem to match Hamilton’s level of enthusiasm. “We’re still lacking probably a couple of times of base performance,” he admitted. “Obviously it’s a short track here so the gaps don’t look as big.

“I think, as a team, we truly understand why we were so slow in Spa and why from the get-go we showed more promising performance this weekend. But ultimately Max and Red Bull are too quick for us. Our fight and battle is with Ferrari at the moment.”

Zandvoort is a narrow and tight circuit where there is very little margin for error. Despite this, there was no Safety Car intervention here last year. But all it takes is one mistake to see a car in the gravel or the barriers and strategies could be thrown into the air.

However, there is one final unique factor which could come into play at Zandvoort, that of an unusual environmental hazard. Not merely the thoughtless few spectators lobbing contraband onto the circuit, but the local birdlife, which has already proven the most dangerous element of the race weekend for drivers and themselves. Both Marcus Armstrong and Theo Pourchaire struck pigeons during the Formula 2 race.

Circuit atmosphere, Circuit Zandvoort, 2022
One flare triggered a red flag during qualifying
“It’s very odd,” said Russell. “It’s just at that one corner, turn seven, these pigeons are just standing on the apex. “Ross Brawn’s probably happy there’s not so much outwash from the cars. Last year we would’ve blown the pigeons away…”

As silly as it seems, Verstappen has already lost one potential race victory this season due to striking debris at Silverstone. Hopefully our feathered friends don’t swing the outcome of Sunday’s race.

With the top six cars likely to be so close over the course of the race, even the smallest hazard could play a big role in deciding whether the Zandvoort fans go home satisfied or saddened on Sunday evening. But whatever happens, the championship leader can afford to take it in his stride.

“I think it will be close, but basically for most of the races this year it has been like that,” Verstappen said. “So I’m looking forward to it and I hope that we can have a good race.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Qualifying times in full

PositionNumberDriverTeamQ1 timeQ2 time (vs Q1)Q3 time (vs Q2)
11Max VerstappenRed Bull1’11.3171’10.927 (-0.390s)1’10.342 (-0.585s)
216Charles LeclercFerrari1’11.4431’10.988 (-0.455s)1’10.363 (-0.625s)
355Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’11.7671’10.814 (-0.953s)1’10.434 (-0.380s)
444Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’11.3311’11.075 (-0.256s)1’10.648 (-0.427s)
511Sergio PerezRed Bull1’11.6411’11.314 (-0.327s)1’11.077 (-0.237s)
663George RussellMercedes1’11.5611’10.824 (-0.737s)1’11.147 (+0.323s)
74Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’11.5561’11.116 (-0.440s)1’11.174 (+0.058s)
847Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’11.7411’11.420 (-0.321s)1’11.442 (+0.022s)
922Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red Bull1’11.4271’11.428 (+0.001s)1’12.556 (+1.128s)
1018Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’11.5681’11.416 (-0.152s)
1110Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red Bull1’11.7051’11.512 (-0.193s)Missed by 0.084s
1231Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’11.7481’11.605 (-0.143s)Missed by 0.177s
1314Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’11.6671’11.613 (-0.054s)Missed by 0.185s
1424Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’11.8261’11.704 (-0.122s)Missed by 0.276s
1523Alexander AlbonWilliams-Mercedes1’11.6951’11.802 (+0.107s)Missed by 0.374s
1677Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’11.961Missed by 0.135s
173Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’12.081Missed by 0.255s
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’12.319Missed by 0.493s
195Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’12.391Missed by 0.565s
206Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’13.353Missed by 1.527s

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Max Verstappen24.229 (4)24.556 (1)21.557 (2)
Charles Leclerc24.155 (1)24.569 (2)21.461 (1)
Carlos Sainz Jnr24.176 (3)24.627 (4)21.631 (3)
Lewis Hamilton24.252 (5)24.574 (3)21.705 (6)
Sergio Perez24.165 (2)24.872 (8)21.765 (8)
George Russell24.278 (6)24.759 (5)21.665 (4)
Lando Norris24.281 (7)25.003 (11)21.693 (5)
Mick Schumacher24.467 (10)25.062 (12)21.751 (7)
Yuki Tsunoda24.519 (12)24.772 (6)21.994 (15)
Lance Stroll24.321 (9)25.095 (14)21.848 (10)
Pierre Gasly24.635 (16)24.996 (10)21.808 (9)
Esteban Ocon24.806 (19)24.835 (7)21.890 (12)
Fernando Alonso24.469 (11)24.952 (9)21.945 (13)
Zhou Guanyu24.606 (14)25.067 (13)21.954 (14)
Alexander Albon24.606 (14)25.238 (19)21.851 (11)
Valtteri Bottas24.856 (20)25.106 (15)21.999 (16)
Daniel Ricciardo24.604 (13)25.147 (16)22.183 (19)
Kevin Magnussen24.742 (18)25.183 (17)22.034 (17)
Sebastian Vettel24.285 (8)25.214 (18)22.158 (18)
Nicholas Latifi24.653 (17)25.871 (20)22.402 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Sergio PerezRed BullRed Bull330.7 (205.5)
2Fernando AlonsoAlpineRenault327.4 (203.4)-3.3
3Max VerstappenRed BullRed Bull327.3 (203.4)-3.4
4George RussellMercedesMercedes325.7 (202.4)-5.0
5Mick SchumacherHaasFerrari324.0 (201.3)-6.7
6Pierre GaslyAlphaTauriRed Bull323.9 (201.3)-6.8
7Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariFerrari323.7 (201.1)-7.0
8Nicholas LatifiWilliamsMercedes323.4 (201.0)-7.3
9Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauriRed Bull323.3 (200.9)-7.4
10Alexander AlbonWilliamsMercedes322.8 (200.6)-7.9
11Esteban OconAlpineRenault322.2 (200.2)-8.5
12Lando NorrisMcLarenMercedes322.0 (200.1)-8.7
13Zhou GuanyuAlfa RomeoFerrari321.9 (200.0)-8.8
14Charles LeclercFerrariFerrari321.3 (199.6)-9.4
15Lance StrollAston MartinMercedes320.5 (199.1)-10.2
16Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari319.5 (198.5)-11.2
17Daniel RicciardoMcLarenMercedes319.5 (198.5)-11.2
18Sebastian VettelAston MartinMercedes319.1 (198.3)-11.6
19Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes319.1 (198.3)-11.6
20Valtteri BottasAlfa RomeoFerrari317.9 (197.5)-12.8

Over to you

Will Verstappen delight his home fans with another win? Will Ferrari or Mercedes prove his biggest threat?

Share your views on the Dutch Grand Prix in the comments.

Become a RaceFans Supporter

RaceFans is run thanks in part to the generous support of its readers. By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the same in whichever currency you use) you can help cover the costs of creating, hosting and developing RaceFans today and in the future.

Become a RaceFans Supporter today and browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 Dutch Grand Prix articles

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

26 comments on “Ferrari pair eye split strategies to maximise their threat to Verstappen”

  1. Expect ferrari to pit for wets on lap two and to put mismatching compounds on the other car 5 laps before the end, or is that just my perception Mr Binotto?

    1. Exactly! This is modern day Ferrari, they will find new ways to bungle the race. I expect to see them finish no higher than 8th and 11th!
      Mercedes are the only danger to RBR now.

    2. LOL. This made me laugh out loud when I read it.

    3. Considering they’re 2nd in the WCC, that just makes the other eight teams look even worse.

      1. Touche Michael, touche.

      2. Basically ferrari has the car and the drivers but not the strategists, most other teams are worse in the first 2 but better on strategy.

  2. playstation361
    4th September 2022, 2:43

    After upgrades brands like Ferrari, Mercedes, Aston Martin are showing speed and is a big challenge for Red Bull.

    1. playstation361
      4th September 2022, 7:49

      In the GPS technology Aston Martin is showing speed in between more than before.

  3. Yeah, but ferrari will mess both up.

  4. Smart, it is not like Perez and Hamilton match their pace and they should worry about getting stuck behind them. Oh, wait…

  5. So it will be plan K and plan Z after a few laps?

  6. But after qualifying for the second grand prix to be held around the revised venue, Charles Leclerc could be forgiven for cursing the circuit’s operators for not shortening the track’s layout by 80 metres.

    I like the logic (and/or the lack of it) behind this train of thought ☺️ I also immediately imagine the track ending in a massive sand pit right after the last banked curve and Charles Leclerc being completely happy with that solution from the circuit operators.

    1. A bit like cyclo-cross, where they dismount the bicycle and run up the hill with the bicycle on their shoulders.

  7. Will Verstappen delight his home fans with another win? – Yes, if he gets an issue-free race.
    Will Ferrari or Mercedes prove his biggest threat? – Ferrari or none.
    Split strategy I assume would be Leclerc starting on soft & Sainz medium or the other way round.

  8. If someone hitting a pigeon leads to a mixed-up race and an unexpected winner, it could be the biggest coo of the season.

    1. This forum needs upvote buttons

    2. Leave your membership card at the door, thanks.
      That’s both terrible and wonderful at the same time.

  9. I’m going to be watching Mercedes, given the fact they are so much easier on the tyres. It may open up a different strategy option to the other teams.

  10. Leclerc can make a one stop work, while sainz can do a two stop strategy

  11. That Q3 qualification time table is totally screwed up, please correct.

    1. Is it? How so?

  12. Split strategy for the 2 Ferrari cars…. You mean they now have a magic 8 ball for each individual car to decide the strategy rather than just sharing the one?!?

  13. Ferrari’s 1st strategy is always an own goal.

    1. So leclerc will have to hope the preferential strategy goes to sainz!

  14. They did try. Could not mess up more. Luck was against them

  15. The online magic 8 ball says Ferrari will not mess up again

Comments are closed.