Max Verstappen scored an emphatic victory at his home Grand Prix in Holland, taking back the championship lead from second-placed Lewis Hamilton.
The Dutchman’s triumph maintained the lead despite several attempts by Mercedes challenging the pit stops is never out of the question. Hamilton tried to keep up with the fast pace of the race with an alternate tire strategy, but its gum inevitably faded late, allowing the home hero to drive to a comfortable win.
A perfect start was his foundation for getting away cleanly around the Controlling the ideal line up to the first corner. The second phase of Hamilton’s start was slower and let him fall into the clutches of team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
At the end of the first lap, Verstappen had extended his early lead to a 1.7 second lead, which he had to 3.7 Seconds played out when Hamilton pressed the undercut trigger at the end of the 20th lap and switched to the middle tire.
Verstappen covered the following lap and rejoined with a lead that was shortened to 1.9 seconds. The couple now committed to a two-stop strategy.
Bottas was left out at the front of the race and ran according to the pre-planned one-stop tactic that also got him ahead of the winning Verstappen and Hamilton on the track placed as a roadblock.
But the Finn’s aging soft tires meant his defense was limited. He was caught on lap 29, and on lap 30 he ran deep in turn 11 and endangered his run through the last steep slope to the start-finish straight.
That opened the door wide to Verstappen to turn 14 into the Lead, and Bottas gave in to Hamilton at the end of the straight before changing tires at the end of the lap.
The gap between the first two stabilized at 1.5 seconds, until Verstappen was asked on lap 37 to set foot, and in a couple of laps he’d extended his lead to more than three seconds in anticipation of a stop. Mercedes beat that by catching Hamilton at the end of lap 39, but it dropped him into lap traffic, allowing the Dutchman to easily cover him again, this time adding 0.3 seconds to his lead. From then on, there was no turning back for Verstappen, and he drove to the flag with a comfortable margin to take a three-point title lead.
An amazing moment for @ Max33Verstappen and his army of Dutch fans 🟠 🏁 🏆 # DutchGP 🇳🇱 # F1 pic.twitter.com/SAZ7tsZT4g
« It’s just amazing, » he said in front of an enthusiastic crowd. “Of course the expectations for the weekend were very high and it’s never easy to meet them, but I’m obviously very happy to win here and to take the lead in the championship as well.
Hamilton complained on the team radio that his second stop came too early and the rubber was underutilized, but he admitted that the RB16B was the faster car this afternoon.
« Honestly, it was a great weekend, » he said, appreciating the amount. “I gave absolutely everything today, with high pressure.
Bottas couldn’t keep up with the pace of the first two and was finally called to a second stop to make room for Hamilton to make another stop of his own to get the point for the fastest lap.
The Finn threatened to rebel and set two fastest sectors when Hamilton pitted, but a stern warning from chief strategist James Vowles forced him to stop in the third sector and eventually focus on team play to sign.
« We tried, but we didn’t quite have the pace today, » he said. « I didn’t set the fastest lap, but Lewis did it, so we scored solid points as a team. »
Pierre Gasly was fourth in a strategic battle with pursuing Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz .
AlphaTauri stopped him off the soft and middle mix early to make sure he would hold position on the track as soon as the red cars switched, but both Leclerc and Sainz opted for that 10 laps later safer hard compound, which earned them a practical tire misalignment.
But Gasly managed to keep his distance from the red cars flawlessly with his softer rubber to keep his starting position and collect 12 points, with Leclerc close behind .
Sainz did not have the pace of his teammate on the harder surface and slipped out of the fight for fourth place. At the end of the race he got within range of Alpines Fernando Alonso, who overtook him in sixth on the last lap.
Sainz then had to hold on to seventh place against the double threat from Esteban Ocon and the attacking Sergio Perez, who was recovered from a pit start and a bad early breakdown and moved up to 11th with 24 laps to go.
The Mexican slipped past Ocon with three laps to go, but couldn’t make the same impression on the Spaniard and finished eighth and only a half Second behind the Ferrari.
Ocon crossed the finish line in ninth place in front of Lando Norris, who improved significantly from 13th on the grid with a long opening stint on the medium tire. He threw the dice with his teammate Daniel Ricciardo after his stop, who slipped into the order with poor pace on the hard tire, but McLaren finally ordered the Briton to make up more places, albeit in vain.
Antonio Giovinazzi led the temporary Alfa Romeo team-mate Robert Kubica, while Nicholas Latifi took 16th place ahead of the retired but still classified George Russell and Mick Schumacher.
After joining the F1 press corps for the first time in 2012, he suspected an administrative error, and Michael has since made himself one of the few Australian regulars in the press room. After graduating in print journalism and later on radio, he worked his way as an F1 broadcaster from community media to the Australian ABC grandstand. Although he would prefer to be recognized for his F1 expertise, in parts of his hometown Melbourne, his reputation of being sick in a kart will forever precede him.
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