F1 Dutch GP: Super Max Claims Superb Home Victory
Red Bull and Max Verstappen extended their lead to 109 points this season with another victory in the Netherlands, Rhonan Colquhoun reports.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed back-to-back victories round the Zandvoort circuit as the Dutchman took advantage of a late VSC and Safety Car to win ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen, who claimed Pole Position by the slimmest margin of the season, extends his championship lead to 109 points over the competition after his tenth win of the year.
The Championship leader led the race from Pole ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc as the two drivers started on the Soft tyre and both were hoping to execute a two-stop strategy.
As the Soft tyre wore out, the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, on the Medium tyre, took charge of the race with the British pair leading for a number of laps. Both drivers were hoping to complete the race on a one-stop strategy – swapping onto the Hard tyre during the race.
The race was turned on its head first following a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) for the stricken AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda and then a full-course Safety Car as Alfa Romeo’s Valterri Bottas ground to a halt on track.
With the deployment of both the VSC and the Safety Car, the intended strategy for all the drivers and the predicted climax to the race of Verstappen catching and duelling the Mercedes’ drivers was thrown out of the window.
The racing order was rejigged and Verstappen sat behind Hamilton who did not pit for a second time under the Safety Car. With Bottas’s Alfa Romeo removed from the track, racing resumed with Hamilton leading. The Brit kept the lead for a matter of metres as Verstappen, in the tow of the Mercedes driver, overtook the Brit before Turn 1 before galloping into the distance en route to victory.
The Seven Time World Champion started to angrily vent over team radio to how the team had thrown away a potential victory. Russell, unlike Hamilton had pitted for a set of Softs, followed Verstappen in passing his fellow Brit with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc seizing the opportunity to knock Hamilton off the podium.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr finished fifth on the road but was demoted to eighth as the Spaniard was given a five second time penalty due to an unsafe release. This followed after a calamity of a pit-stop earlier in the race where the team gave the call to pit the Ferrari driver too late which didn’t give the pit-crew enough time to get the tyres ready.
After the race, Sainz described his race as a “mess” and with the Ferrari driver knocked down the order, it let Mercedes to score more points than the Scuderia leaving only 30 points between them in the championship.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez inherited fifth and was closely followed by Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who rose from 13th on the grid, and McLaren’s Lando Norris who solidifies his seventh place in the championship.
The second Alpine of Esteban Ocon and the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten.
Alpine now grow their advantage in the Constructors Championship over McLaren to 24 points in their battle for fourth – however, it’ll be more rewarding for the French team to be ahead given the court battle they lost out to their rivals over the driving duties of Oscar Piastri for next season.
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen survived his trip across the gravel and made light contact with the barrier early in the race to claim 15th. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo couldn’t make his way up the order and settled for 17th – the third race in a row that the Australian has finished 15th or lower.
The race only featured two drivers who did not finish the 72 lap event of Yuki Tsunoda, who brought out the VSC and Valterri Bottas, who came to a halt triggering the Safety Car.