Verstappen wins home Grand Prix after strategic battle

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Netherlands, Circuit Park Zandvoortnl

Max Verstappen has won his home Grand Prix at Zandvoort for the second time in a row after a strategical race involving all three Pirelli tyre compounds. Mercedes' George Russell finished second with Charles Leclerc completing the podium.

The Dutch Grand Prix got off to a fairly clean start amidst lots of fog due to the orange flares that the crowd keeps on firing. Verstappen had no problem staying ahead from pole, having a slight advantage to the two Ferraris behind with a fresh set of soft versus used softs for Leclerc and Sainz.

Hamilton maintained fourth place but bumped into Sainz in the first corner, luckily for both of them without damage. The Brit started on mediums, just like Russell, Norris, Schumacher, Albon and Magnussen while everybody else used softs in the first stint.

The best starters were Ocon who gained three places and the two Aston Martins who both managed to gain two positions. The worst was Magnussen. After a solid getaway he lost control of his car at the Gerlachbocht on lap 2 and skirted through the gravel. The Dane slid against the barriers and was lucky to be able to continue without any notable car damage.

The first real passing manouvre on track came from Fernando Alonso on lap 9 when he finally managed to clear Pierre Gasly. Alonso had passed the AlphaTauri at the start but saw the Frenchman come back on the straight the next lap, resulting in a bit of road block for the Spaniard for 8 laps.

Alonso rapidly closed the 3s gap to Tsunoda and passed him on lap 11 to move up into 11th place, 2s behind Mick Schumacher.

Meanwhile the first soft runners started to pit. Vettel was first and switched to used mediums, followed by Gasly and Ricciardo. At the end of lap 11 Alonso and Zhou pitted too, dropping the Spaniard back down into 16th after switching to hard tyres.

For Schumacher the tyres change was pretty much a disaster as the lengthy stop dropped him down to 17th position. A little bit later Sainz entered the pits for an even worse pitstop as the Ferrari crew didn't even have the left rear tyre ready. Perez, who entered at the same time just behind Sainz was long gone before Sainz eventually got going again. He was 9s behind Perez versus 1s ahead before the pitstop.

Leclerc had a better stop on lap 18, followed with stops by Verstappen and Ocon the next lap. Hamilton and Russell therefore found themselves in first and second place.

Verstappen initially seemed to preserve his tyres a bit rather than seek to challenge Russell immediately. Instead, it wasn't until lap 27 that the Dutchman passed Russell. Once he was in DRS range it was a very easy affair to which Russell had no defence. As Verstappen closed in on Hamilton, the latter was pitted the next lap to hard tyres, returning to the track in 5th place.

Russell pitted another lap later and similarly switched to hard tyres, returning to the track 7s behind Hamilton and 6s ahead of Sainz.

Both Mercedes immediately ended up recording fastest laps on their fresh hard tyres. On lap 35 the Mercedes driver ended up trying to pass Perez round the outside at Turn 1, but Perez then went deep on braking while locking his front right, forcing Hamilton to back out of it.

The next the move stuck but then Vettel almost ruined matters for Hamilton as he got in the way on the high line in the banked Hugenholz corner. Perez nearly managed to capitalise on that problem by going down but it was Hamilton who kept the upper hand and quickly built up his lead.

Russell had less problems to get past Perez two laps later. Perez pitted three laps later and changed to fresh hard tyres, enabling him to go quick and rapidly get past Norris for 5th place.

Moments later Tsunoda stopped alongside the track reporting "Tyres not fitted!" but after about 20s of standstill he was told worked hard to sort something in the cockpit. The Japanese then slowly left the pits but later parked for the second time.

This forced a virtual safety car and triggered numerous pitstops. Norris and Alonso were first, both switching to soft. Verstappen switched to hard with both Mercedes also pitting to take on a fresh medium tyres. Leclerc, Perez and Sainz didn't pit as they were on reasonably fresh hard tyres but also Ocon didn't pit even though he had 29 lap old hards at the time of the opportunity.

On lap 55 Bottas came to a halt on the main straight and with no way to clear the car easily a safety car period was necessary. Yet again, numerous drivers pitted with Verstappen being the first to switch his hards to softs. This brought Hamilton in the lead and when everybody had to drive through the pitlane many more stops followed, including those for Russell, Leclerc and Sainz as they switched to soft.

On lap 60 the race got going again and of course with softs fitted on the slippery Red Bull, Verstappen rapidly took his opportunity and went into the lead ahead of Turn 1. Verstappen had that followed up with a fastest lap to get out of DRS range before that got enabled again.

Russell behind had similar problems to keep Leclerc behind, but their tyres being equal was just enough for the Mercedes driver to keep the Ferrari behind. Sainz meanwhile (on soft) set the record straight with Perez (on medium), recovering the position on the Red Bull which he lost in that lengthy first pitstop.

On lap 63 Russell also breezed past Hamilton to take second. Another 2 laps later Hamilton also lost third place as Leclerc went past, resulting in a lot of agitation by Hamilton who said on the radio "I can't believe you guys, I can't tell how **** I am".

Behind Hamilton, Sainz then got a penalty for an unsafe release while struggling to keep Perez behind. When the Mexican then tried to pass 3 laps from the end he ran through the gravel on the exit of Turn 1, losing touch with Sainz and having to fend off Alonso and Norris until th end.

At the finish line, all three men moved up past Sainz in the standings because of that penalty while Ocon missed that opportunity by 0.201 seconds.

Verstappen won his home race for the second time in a row enjoying perfect strategical decisions.

On to Monza in just 5 days!


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Rbpt721:36:42.77326
263George RussellMercedes72+4.071s18
316Charles LeclercFerrari72+10.929s15
444Lewis HamiltonMercedes72+13.016s12
511Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Rbpt72+18.168s10
614Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault72+18.754s8
74Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes72+19.306s6
855Carlos SainzFerrari72+20.916s4
931Esteban OconAlpine Renault72+21.117s2
1018Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes72+22.459s1
1110Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt72+27.009s0
1223Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes72+30.390s0
1347Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari72+32.995s0
145Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco Mercedes72+36.007s0
1520Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari72+36.869s0
1624Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari72+37.320s0
173Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes72+37.764s0
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes71+1 lap0
NC77Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari53DNF0
NC22Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Rbpt43DNF0

Note - Verstappen scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.