Max Verstappen left his 'orange army' baffled following a poor Friday by his standards as Charles Leclerc narrowly edged Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz at the end of the second practice session for the Dutch Grand Prix.
A gearbox issue in FP1 consigned F1's reigning champion to the garage after just 10 minutes and seven laps after being given a rapturous reception by the tens of thousands of fans in the Zandvoort grandstands as they welcomed home their hero.
Expecting Verstappen to bounce back to form in FP2, particularly following a drive in last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix in which many of his peers and team principals described him as being on another level, that failed to materialise.
Red Bull came into the weekend suggesting it would struggle as the seaside circuit is a high-downforce track, and while the RB18 has proven to be a car for all venues, on this occasion its sizeable rear wing was not as efficient as its rivals.
Instead, it was Ferrari who fared well on the soft tyre runs across the first half of the session before attention turned to the high-fuel, medium-tyre outings in the second half.
Leclerc, who has fallen 98 points behind Verstappen in the drivers' standings which has led him to throwing in the towel on his title hopes, finished just 0.004secs ahead of Sainz.
Verstappen was seven-tenths back on the lap of one minute 12.345secs and only eighth in the standings.
Underlining the close-knit nature of the session, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was just 0.072s down himself, with Lando Norris 0.103s off the pace behind his fellow Briton.
It leaves the qualifying session open as to who will take the pole honours around the 4.3-kilometre venue.
George Russell, quickest in FP1, had to settle for fifth on the timesheet, three-tenths of a second back, followed by Aston Martin's Lance Stroll and Alpine duo Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon then sandwiching Verstappen.
Daniel Ricciardo was a second back in 10th, albeit only completing 10 laps due to his MCL36 sustaining an oil leak behind the radiator.
Yuki Tsunoda finished 11th, however, the Japanese driver brought out the second red flag of the day late in FP2 when he beached his AlphaTauri in the gravel, resulting in a seven-minute delay.
Sergio Perez, who had struggled in FP1, fared worse in FP2 as the Mexican was 12th and 1.148s down.
As in FP1, Nicholas Latifi was at the rear in the second session, a yawning half-a-second back on the driver above in Haas' Kevin Magnussen.
Dutch Grand Prix second practice results
1. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] 1:12.345s
2. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +0.004s
3. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.072s
4. Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.103s
5. George Russell [Mercedes] +0.310s
6. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +0.401s
7. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +0.503s
8. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] +0.697s
9. Esteban Ocon Alpine +0.960s
10. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +1.017s
11. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +1.074s
12. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +1.148s
13. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +1.259s
14. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +1.266s
15. Zhou Guanyu [Alfa Romeo] +1.279s
16. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] +1.321s
17. Alexander Albon [Williams] +1.492s
18. Valtteri Bottas [Alfa Romeo] +1.822s
19. Kevin Magnussen [Haas] +1.937s
20. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +2.452s