Race Report: Max Verstappen wins the Dutch GP after a dramatic day on track
Max Verstappen has won the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort this afternoon after a thrilling day on track filled with overtakes, delayed pit stops, and safety cars.
In the final laps, Verstappen managed to pull his Red Bull four seconds clear of George Russell in second, while Charles Leclerc was almost five seconds further back in third.
Hamilton looked to be in contention for a podium finish this afternoon, but after what he described as a “f*** up” by the team with his strategy, he ended up in fourth after losing second to his teammate George Russell, and third to Charles Leclerc.
Today’s result means Red Bull continues to lead the Championship Standings across the board and is in a great position heading into the final race of this triple header in Monza next weekend.
Here’s how the race played out:
At lights out, Verstappen was able to defend his lead against the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc into Turn One while there was some contact between the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver managed to stay in fourth despite momentarily losing control as all of Sunday’s top five retained their positions on Lap One.
George Russell lost a position to the Mclaren of Lando Norris who snuck past him at the beginning of the race to secure sixth. Other drivers who got off the line well were Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who gained three places to move up to ninth, while Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll jumped two places to eighth.
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen had a close call as he went off into the gravel and hit the barrier on Lap One. He managed to keep his Haas going and rejoined the track – however, there was no doubt he had picked up damage.
Unlike in past races this season, Max Verstappen was struggling to extend his lead on Charles Leclerc as he mercilessly hunted the Dutchman down and on Lap Six was closing in on the Red Bull and making use of DRS. Although no overtake was achieved, the gap was a mere 1.2s.
The longer DRS Zone this year was also proving of benefit to Russell, who managed to snatch his place back from Norris just several laps later – placing him back in sixth, 1.3s behind his leading teammate in fourth.
Heading into Lap ten, Max Verstappen retaliated to Leclerc’s quick chase and pushed his Red Bull 2s into the distance and was appearing comfortable. However, he was warned over the team radio to expect the Ferraris to start pushing. Lewis Hamilton continued to hunt down the second Ferrari in third and was hot on the back of Carlos Sainz by Lap 11 – just .6s behind.
The first pit stops were seen on the eleventh lap. Sebastian Vettel was the first in but was quickly followed by Ricciardo and Gasly. Meanwhile, Lando Norris was told that the soft-runners were showing high degradation as his teammate pitted for medium tyres – returning to the race in P20.
Minutes later, Sainz pitted from third which ended up being a disaster stop, sending him flying down the order to 11th on return to the race, 42s behind the front runners. Footage showed there was no rear left ready to go after a quick box decision by the pit wall, which meant the Spaniard was kept stationary for a lengthy stint.
By Lap 16, Max Verstappen had got his lead over Charles Leclerc up to 3.9s, and continued to look pretty comfortable out in front. Lewis Hamilton continued to chase the back of Carlos Sainz, but simply did not have the straight-line speed to get past into the first corner.
Leclerc had a more successful stop for new tyres on Lap 18, with a smooth transition and exit as he lost just two places in the meantime on track. He was now running in fourth and posting the fastest lap of the day so far – 27s off Verstappen now.
As a result, Hamilton and Russell were promoted into second and third respectively – but had yet to pit. Verstappen then entered the pitlane on Lap 19 for a fresh set of mediums and returned in third, 9.7s behind new race leader, Lewis Hamilton.
On Lap 28 George Russell was unable to continue holding Max Verstappen off second place and the Red Bull driver used DRS on the home straight to easily pass the British driver up the inside of Turn 1. Verstappen now had Hamilton in his sights for first place – marking one of the few times the pair have battled for P1 this season.
In a stroke of luck for the Dutchman, he was able to preserve his tyres as Hamilton came in for his first pit stop of the day. He put on a set of hard tyres and was told by the team they would be going to the end of the race on them. Moments later on Lap 33, Russell entered for a swift 2.6s stop and returned to the race in fifth on hard tyres also.
On Lap 34, Verstappen had re-extended his lead in this race to over 8s, with Leclerc back in second and Perez in third – all on medium tyres. Although Verstappen believed the Hard tyres would be a bad choice, they seemed to be working well for Mercedes as the pair came alive on track posting fastest laps from P4 (HAM) and P5 (RUS).
Hamilton tried to swiftly close in on Perez on Lap 36 and tried to go around the outside, but in true Perez form, the Red Bull aggressively forced the Mercedes wide to defend third. However, Perez couldn’t stop Lewis Hamilton on the following lap, and the Mercedes passed with ease round the outside into turn 1.
All was not lost, as the battle between the pair on track lost Hamilton 3s in this race – benefitting race leader Verstappen who was now 10.2s in the distance from the British driver who was in third.
By Lap 45 the top three remained as such, as a yellow flag was waved. AlphaTauri driver, Yuki Tsunoda stopped on the track saying his tyres weren’t fitted, however, a safety car was not needed as the Japanese driver began running again, limping back to the pits.
Amid the Tsunoda chaos, Carlos Sainz came in for his second stop and come out in ninth with the Alpines and Lando Norris up ahead. Then the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc came for a set of hard tyres. He returned in fourth and was around 20 seconds back from George Russell in third.
Verstappen was 13.8s in the distance as another yellow flag was waved on Yuki’s return to the track as he complained of more issues and a virtual safety car was deployed, giving Max Verstappen the perfect window to pit for hard tyres for his final journey to the chequered flag. This marked the end of the race for the AlphaTauri man as many questions surround his car failure and the FIA announced an investigation.
Verstappen was followed in by numerous other cars, including the two Mercedes men who also put on some new medium tyres, but Hamilton remained a lengthy 17 seconds behind Max Verstappen.
Racing resumed with 22 laps left, and the leading Red Bull on hard tyres was 12.8s ahead of Hamilton who was on mediums – the British driver was given the go ahead to ‘push’ by his team in the final laps.
Yellow flags were waved once again as Alfa Romeo’s Valteri Bottas stopped on the home straight as a safety car arrived on track.
Much to the shock of commentators, Verstappen re-entered the pits for soft tyres and was back out in third. He was followed into the pits by George Russell, who opted for the same strategy as Hamilton remained on mediums and was now leading this race ahead of the restart.
The safety car came in on Lap 61 as racing resumed and Verstappen quickly retook the lead of the race passing Hamilton on the home straight. A furious seven-time world champion was then overtaken by his teammate on faster soft tyres and he made his thoughts known over the team radio saying: “That was the biggest **** up.”
Minutes later, Charles Leclerc eased past him as well, and while there were just six laps to go, Max Verstappen was holding a comfortable three-second lead over Russell.
At the chequered flag, Verstappen delighted the Dutch fans with another victory for the world championship leader at his home race. George Russell came home second, with Charles Leclerc taking the final podium spot.