Max Verstappen gives home fans reason to cheer
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won his home Dutch Grand Prix from pole position for the second year in a row on Sunday and stretched his Formula One lead to a massive 109 points. George Russell finished second for Mercedes with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc completing the podium at Zandvoort and Verstappen also taking a bonus point for fastest lap.
Leclerc and Verstappen’s Mexican teammate Sergio Perez are tied on points but the Ferrari driver is ahead on wins with seven rounds remaining — and Verstappen more than four race victories clear. In the constructors’ standings, Red Bull have 511 points to Ferrari’s 376. “They threw everything at us but we made the right calls,” said Verstappen over the team radio as he took his fourth win in a row, and 10th of the season.
“It’s always special to win your home grand prix, this year I had to work for it even more,” he added as the packed grandstands full of orange-shirted fans went into party overdrive.
Mercedes’ seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was fourth, the Briton fuming at his team after leading a race he might have won but for the timing of safety cars and a tyre strategy that left him on slower tyres than rivals.
“I can’t believe you guys,” he said over the radio, with expletives filling the airwaves. Hamilton had already complained that his hopes of winning had been “stuffed” by a virtual safety car period triggered by AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda which allowed Verstappen to pit with less time lost. The Japanese had initially stopped by the side of the track on the 44th of 72 laps, complaining his tyres had not been fitted properly.
Told they were OK, he returned to the pits for a tyre change and seatbelt check and was sent back out before stopping again and parking up. The full safety car was deployed on lap 55 when Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas stopped just before the last corner, with Verstappen and Russell pitting for soft tyres but Hamilton staying out on the mediums.
Verstappen seized the lead back at the re-start and did not look back. “We timed it really well out of that last corner into the banking. You could see the draft was quite strong and we got ahead. It’s incredible to win again,” said the Dutch driver. Perez finished fifth with Fernando Alonso sixth for Alpine and Lando Norris seventh for McLaren. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz ended up eighth after finishing fifth on the road but was relegated due to a five-second penalty for an unsafe release in the pitlane. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was ninth and Lance Stroll took the final point for Aston Martin.