Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas say they hope they can use a numerical advantage to overhaul Max Verstappen at Formula 1’s Dutch Grand Prix.
Hamilton and Bottas qualified second and third on the grid respectively for F1’s return to Zandvoort, behind polesitter Verstappen.
Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez, however, was caught out during Saturday’s qualifying session and was eliminated in Q1.
As a result, the Mexican is set to start the race from a lowly 16th place, though could drop to the back if he takes a power unit change, thus leaving Verstappen without back-up.
Strategy is expected to be vital at Zandvoort amid fears that the circuit’s layout will make overtaking extremely difficult.
“Red Bull seem pretty quick in the long runs so, for sure, it’s not going to be easy to challenge them – but of course we try, and we will have two cars against one of them, so that’s always good news,” said Bottas.
“There’s always the start as well, so there will be opportunities, and strategy-wise, I don’t know if it’s going to be one or two stops, so anything is still possible and it’s not like they’re miles away, so looking forward.”
Hamilton echoed Bottas’ comments though he also conceded that he will be on the back foot due to his lack of long runs in practice.
Hamilton missed the majority of Friday’s second session, in which teams carry out longer runs, due to a power unit issue.
“I haven’t done any long running, so I don’t really know too much of what the track’s like with heavy fuel,” said Hamilton. “I only have my reference from 2005 [in Formula 3] and I don’t remember that!
“No doubt it’s going to be tough. Just from watching these guys, I think Max and his team were quicker than us, I think, on the long run – but it’s not a track that you can particularly overtake in, so it’s going to be strategy tomorrow and how you can utilise the tyres. The start will be fun.”