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Russell spearheads Mercedes one-two after Verstappen failure
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Russell spearheads Mercedes one-two after Verstappen failure

Russell spearheads Mercedes one-two after Verstappen failure

Russell spearheads Mercedes one-two after Verstappen failure

Russell spearheads Mercedes one-two after Verstappen failure

George Russell spearheaded a Mercedes one-two in opening practice for the Dutch Grand Prix as the team suggested a return to form after its shocking performance in Belgium a week ago.

Team principal Toto Wolff lamented the worst qualifying display in his 10 years in the sport as Hamilton and Russell finished a staggering 1.8secs and 2.1s respectively off the pace of polesitter Verstappen who went on to complete a crushing win from 14th.

But despite barely any time to work on the car over the past few days, Mercedes had the edge on its rivals around the short 4.3-kilometre circuit by the seaside.

Russell posted a time of one minute 12.455s, finishing 0.240s ahead of team-mate Hamilton, with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz their nearest challenger, a further 0.150s back.

The Mercedes duo took advantage of Verstappen's rare reliability woes as his FP1 lasted just 10 minutes due to a gearbox issue grinding his Red Bull to a halt.

Roars reverberated around the Zandvoort circuit when Verstappen took to a track where he won in commanding fashion a year ago on F1's return after a long absence.

The reigning champion had run for seven laps, and was top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:14.714s when his RB18 suddenly slowed and stopped.

Verstappen reported a gearbox fault, leading to the session being red flagged and halted for nine minutes before his car was retrieved and returned to the garage.

Earlier today, a seal was broken on the gearbox of Verstappen's car in order to change the main-shaft locking insert. That was done without penalty.

It is unknown at this stage whether that had any impact on the gearbox failure.

Like Mercedes, McLaren duo Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo also surprised as they were fourth and fifth quickest, 0.474s and 0.622s down respectively,

Charles Leclerc, now 98 points adrift of Verstappen in the drivers' standings and who says he has thrown in the towel on his title hopes, was down in sixth, followed by Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez.

The Mexican almost made it a double retirement in the session as he flirted with the barriers in running off track and onto the grass at one point but managed to avoid a crash. He finished almost a second back.

Alpine duo Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were eighth and ninth best, followed by Williams' Alex Albon who completed the top 10, with the Thai-British driver 1.608s down.

Haas driver Mick Schumacher, subject of considerable speculation about his future, led the second half of the field, with Williams' Nicholas Latifi bringing up the rear, 2.667s off the pace.

On soft tyres, Latifi was unable to climb above Verstappen whose best lap before his early exit was run on the hard compound.

Dutch Grand Prix first practice results

1. George Russell [Mercedes] 1:12.455s

2. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.240s

3. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +0.390s

4. Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.474s

5. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +0.622s

6. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] +0.672s

7. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +0.961s

8. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +1.178s

9. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] +1.508s

10. Alexander Albon [Williams] +1.608s

11. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +1.708s

12. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +1.802s

13. Kevin Magnussen [Haas] +1.950s

14. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] +2.019s

15. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +2.045s

16. Zhou Guanyu [Alfa Romeo] +2.079s

17. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +2.175s

18. Valtteri Bottas [Alfa Romeo] +2.240s

19. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] +2.259s

20. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +2.667s

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