Max Verstappen has moved back to the head of the drivers’ standings, after winning the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort over title rival Lewis Hamilton, sending his home fans into ecstasy, as the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas completed the podium.
In the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985, Verstappen led from pole as he kept Hamilton at bay throughout the 72-lap encounter around the sweeping Zandvoort track, to bring home his seventh win of the season.
“It’s incredible to win here today on another home track and it feels great to take the lead in the Driver’s Championship again. Of course the expectations were very high coming into the weekend and it’s never easy to fulfil that but the whole crowd has been incredible and I am so happy to win here. It was quite a tough race, Lewis was really putting the pressure on and both Mercedes’ had really good pace but we managed to have that three second buffer when we needed it and I think that was very important,” said Verstappen.
“We can be really pleased with the whole Team performance; we made the right calls and we managed the race really well. 72 laps around this track is cool, especially in front of all these fans, they were incredible throughout the whole race, I’ve never experienced anything like this before in my life. I will of course celebrate at home this evening, but Monza is just around the corner and the championship fight is tight, so I want to make sure we perform at our best.”
Hamilton had to settle for second, the seven-time champion stopping with two laps to go for softs.
Bottas was a comfortable third, despite his own late stop for soft tyres, with Bottas appearing to have ignored team orders not to attempt to take the fastest lap bonus point away from Hamilton – only for Hamilton to claim it anyway on the final lap.
There was almost a football stadium atmosphere at Zandvoort as the expectant Dutch crowd, orange flares blazing, watched their man Max Verstappen take up his spot on pole position. And their hero achieved his first goal of the afternoon with a brilliant start, decisively sweeping in front of the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton starting alongside him into to Turn 1.
Despite there having been six red flags in the practice and qualifying sessions leading up to the race, it was something of a surprise to see the pack all make it through the first lap without major incident.
The only real drama centred around Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who narrowly avoided contact with Williams’ George Russell into Turn 2 before using his Indy 500 experience to swoop through the banked Turn 3 on the high line, allowing Alonso to climb from his P9 grid slot to P7.
Up at the front, though, Verstappen was quickly into his stride, stretching his advantage to around 3s over Hamilton by Lap 10, Hamilton himself with 5s between himself and team mate Bottas.
In the AlphaTauri, Pierre Gasly was comfortably holding fourth from the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sainz, but had dropped over 10s behind Bottas – although Gasly was still usefully positioned to give Mercedes a potential strategic headache to help out Verstappen in the Red Bull sister team.
So, it was double joy for Verstappen, as he held aloft the winner’s trophy on the podium in front of a sea of orange – with the Dutchman having also moved to the head of the drivers’ standings by three points over Hamilton. – www.formula1.com