F1: Verstappen and Hamilton battle for victory at a very orange Dutch GP
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Max Verstappen has regained the lead in the drivers’ championship with a dominant victory at the Dutch Grand Prix.
Driving in front of his home crowd and raucous fans, the Dutchman led from start to finish to claim the first F1 race at the famous Zandvoort circuit since 1985.
Lewis Hamilton fought hard but finished in second, with his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas rounding out the podium in third.
Strategy was always going to be crucial throughout the 72-lap race on a track that is difficult to overtake on.
Mercedes pitted twice in an effort to give Hamilton fresh tyres to help him chase down Verstappen, but Red Bull followed suit and was able to keep the seven-time world champion at an arms-length for the entire race.
Hamilton wasn’t happy Mercedes decided to take his second pit stop early, arguing he could have got a few more quality laps out of the tyres he had.
“Doesn’t seem to be an advantage,” he said over team radio, adding: “Called our bluff too soon.”
Verstappen was delighted to win his home Grand Prix in front of a boisterous crowd, which made the most of capacity crowds now being allowed at F1 races.
Dutch fans turned out in force to support their local hero. Thousands of fans wearing bright orange shirts packed the grandstands and lit orange flares during and after the race to celebrate Verstappen’s historic win.
“As you can hear, it’s incredible,” Verstappen said of the support he enjoyed at his home race.
“Obviously the expectations were high going into the weekend and it’s never easy to fulfil that, but I’m just so happy to win here, to take the lead in the championship as well.
“It’s just an amazing day. The whole crowd ... it’s incredible.
“Mercedes tried to make it difficult for us but we countered them all the time really well. We can be really pleased with the whole team performance today.”
“Well done mate, that was epic,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said, congratulating his driver over team radio.
“You’ve won your home race, you were brilliant today.”
Hamilton was disappointed by the result but praised the crowd for creating an electric atmosphere, even if they weren’t cheering for him.
“What a race, what a crowd,” he said after the race.
“Honestly it’s been an amazing weekend. Max did a great job, congratulations to him.
“I gave it absolutely everything today, flat-out. I pushed as hard as I could. But they were just too quick for us.”
“They were just too fast this weekend, and today.”
Verstappen now leads the drivers’ championship by three points, just ahead of Hamilton.
Mercedes now have a 12-point advantage over Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.
They made an interesting tactical decision very late in the race to pit both their drivers and give them fresh tyres.
After coming out of the pits with sensational pace, Bottas was ordered not to go flat out, effectively to leave the door open for Hamilton to record the fastest lap of the race.
But Bottas appeared to ignore those instructions and set the fastest lap time of the grand prix, only for Hamilton to go faster on the final lap, which secured him a crucial championship point in the context of his battle with Verstappen.
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo started 10th on the grid and finished 11th, continuing his underwhelming first season with McLaren.
F1 fans won’t have to wait long for the next race, with the Italian Grand Prix taking place next weekend.
Dutch Grand Prix Top 10
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
4. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
6. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
7. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
8. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
10. Lando Norris (McLaren)