Verstappen delights home crowd with controlled victory

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Netherlands, Circuit Park Zandvoortnl

As Mercedes pulled every strategy trick they could imagine, they were at no point a threat to Red Bull's Max Verstappen, resulting in a composed victory in front of the very pleased "orange army". Hamilton and Bottas ended up second and third.

When the lights went out, everybody got away without problems, and also without any position changes at the very front. Verstappen made a solid start and easily had the advantage into Turn 1, followed by Hamilton and Bottas who chose the outside of Turn 1, but without a chance to overtake his teammate.

Behind them, Gasly was under threat from both Ferraris but they all retained their positions. Alonso was the best-placed driver to gain positions, passing Ocon and Giovinazzi. Ocon slotted into 8th, followed by Ricciardo and then Giovinazzi. The Alfa Romeo driver dropped to 10th following an impressive qualifying result that secured him 7th place.

Russell in 11th maintained his grid position and was the best placed driver on new mediums, behind the top 10 on used soft tyres from qualifying on Saturday.

On lap 7, Ocon is heard saying "Fernando in front is extremely slow". And indeed, Ocon is able to follow closely, but then again, Alonso really made the best of his first lap by passing Ocon and Giovinazzi round the outside of Turn 3. Alonso certainly wasn't the fastest at the time, as the cars behind Ocon were also tightly bunched up while both Ferraris ahead were able to run away, resulting in a steadily increasing gap between Sainz and Alonso.

By that time, Hamilton had also noted his tyres would have trouble keeping up this current pace soon, though on lap 11, he ended up setting the fastest lap, reducing the gap to Verstappen with 3 tenths, down to 2.7s.

Meanwhile at the back, Sergio Perez's race went from bad to worse. An engine change forced him to start from the pitlane, and on lap 9 he flat spotted his hard tyres while attacking Mazepin in Turn 1, therefore pitting for a new set of mediums, and obviously rejoining the pack dead last once again. He seemed to go faster on the mediums though, making several great passes. Combined with stops for others, Perez found himself in 14th on lap 23.

On lap 20 and 21, Hamilton and Verstappen pitted one after the other. Both changed to new mediums, and even though Verstappen's stop was almost a full second faster, the gap after their stops was reduced to 1.8 seconds. As they pushed each other in the next laps, they also rapidly closed into Bottas who had inherited the lead.

On lap 28, Verstappen caught up with Bottas, but with a pass not possible on the first pass on the straight line, Hamilton managed to catch up in a single lap. On the next lap Verstappen was so close that he could pass Bottas even before passing the finish line. Hamilton got through two corners later as well, but soon fell out of the DRS window again as Verstappen's first lap after that pass was a full second faster than Hamilton's.

Bottas pitted at the end of that lap, changing to mediums in just 2.2s.

Meanwhile, Sainz and Ocon pitted. Alonso and Leclerc did in the next laps, meaning everyone who started on used soft tyres from qualifying had now pitted. Both Alpines were on a single stop strategy with soft-medium, a strategy that Pirelli did not have as one of its optimal solutions. The Ferrari drivers went for soft-hard.

On lap 39 Hamilton pitted and changed to a used set of medium tyres. He returned to the track just ahead of Bottas. Verstappen pitted the next lap and went for a final stint on new hard tyres. Four laps later, Hamilton was already wondering whether they had made the right choice. Another 6 laps later, he said he won't make it to the end on these tyres, and another bit later, it was "they're just so fast man".

Anyway, Hamilton pushed on and came to within 1.5s before it seemed his tyres wouldn't have any more of that. Mercedes then tried to spice things up a bit more in the end by pitting Bottas 5 laps from the end. Initially, Bottas got the message to go for the fastest lap, but when he was on it, he was asked to abort, something that Bottas didn't do, thereby recording the fastest lap, only to be improved in the final lap by Hamilton after he too pitted for softs.

As Alonso got past Sainz in the penultimate lap, the crowd went crazy for Verstappen controlling the race and winning for his own crowd without every really coming under any threat.


133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda721:30:05.39525
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes72+20.932s19
377Valtteri BottasMercedes72+56.460s15
410Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Honda71+1 lap12
516Charles LeclercFerrari71+1 lap10
614Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault71+1 lap8
755Carlos SainzFerrari71+1 lap6
811Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda71+1 lap4
931Esteban OconAlpine Renault71+1 lap2
104Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes71+1 lap1
113Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes71+1 lap0
1218Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes70+2 laps0
135Sebastian VettelAston Martin Mercedes70+2 laps0
1499Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari70+2 laps0
1588Robert KubicaAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari70+2 laps0
166Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes70+2 laps0
1763George RussellWilliams Mercedes69DNF0
1847Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari69+3 laps0
NC22Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda48DNF0
NC9Nikita MazepinHaas Ferrari41DNF0