Racing at home, Max Verstappen led the Dutch GP from end to end this morning (5), was never much threatened and won to regain the lead in the Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship. Lewis Hamilton was second, followed by teammate of Mercedes Valtteri Bottas. After so many exciting (or controversial) races, the Zandvoort Grand Prix was less exciting.
In the first few meters it was already evident that Red Bull would perform better, which made Mercedes change its strategy, even trying to make Bottas hinder Verstappen, but nothing helped. The Dutchman won for the seventh time of the season and made the crowd party, which filled the stands with orange smoke.
The race ended with no accidents and no changes in the top five positions. Only Nikita Mazepin and Yuki Tsunoda dropped out and didn’t complete the race. Without rest, Formula 1 returns next weekend with the GP in Monza, Italy.
After so many races with complicated first laps, the race in Holland started without any problems, but also without much emotion.
Verstappen and Hamilton started well in the front row, but the Red Bull car was not threatened by Mercedes and soon managed to open a good advantage to guarantee the home driver’s peace of mind.
The biggest “jump” on the first lap was taken by Alonso, who moved up two places in the first corners, going from ninth to seventh place.
Mercedes falling behind
The chance of fighting for victory seemed slim to Lewis Hamilton, who in the first few laps already communicated to the team, by radio, that he would have problems keeping pace with those tyres.
On lap 10, the impression was that Mercedes changed its racing strategy. Hamilton accelerated, setting the fastest lap of the race so far, signaling a two-stop option.
While Hamilton couldn’t lower the three-second gap, Mercedes had to ask Bottas to accelerate, as he was 10 seconds behind with just 18 laps covered.
Hamilton was the first to stop to change tires, on lap 21, coming back in third position on medium tyres.
On the next lap it was Verstappen’s turn to stop to return in second position, only behind Bottas, also on medium tires and two seconds ahead of his rival in the fight for the world title.
Meanwhile, Bottas continued on the track, signaling not only the idea of making just one stop, but also the idea of standing in front of Verstappen to allow an approach to Hamilton.
The second Mercedes driver, by the way, informed the team on lap 26 that he felt that the tires were going away, but that he would be able to stay on the track for longer.
promise of emotion
On lap 30 Mercedes’ strategy showed its face. Verstappen arrived at Bottas and had Hamilton built into his tail.
The two arrived with the possibility of DSR in the pit straight and Red Bull returned to the lead, but Hamilton’s Mercedes managed to stay less than a second behind the leader.
As soon as it was overtaken, Bottas went to the pits, coming back still in third, but soon the difference between Verstappen and Hamilton returned to 1.5s, with a scenario very similar to the one at the beginning of the race.
bottas avoid the worst
On the 37th lap the race almost had one of those incredible crashes.
Vettel lost the rear at turn number 3 and got crossed on the track. Bottas, who was close behind, had a very quick reaction and made the turn on the outside, managing to avoid a blow that would hit the middle of the Aston Martin car.
One more stop and different tires
On lap 40, Mercedes called Hamilton into the pits and put on a set of medium tires that had already been used over the weekend.
Red Bull’s answer came on the next lap, with Verstappen in the pits and then with the hard tire set.
Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race, but more than once questioned the team over the radio for the decision, claiming that it was too many laps to run on those tires.
The durability of the tires raised doubts and did not present an advantage on the track. When Verstappen had to negotiate overtaking with latecomers the advantage reached 1.5 seconds, but soon the gap rose to over four seconds.
Hamilton right, fumbling Mercedes
Mercedes fumbled at the end of the race. With three laps to go, Bottas was called to the pits and the stop that still had a problem and lasted five seconds.
The Finn asked the reason for the stop and even heard the request to abort the fastest lap, which would guarantee an extra point for Hamilton. The order, however, came too late and he set a new track record of 1min12s549.
Hamilton then went to the pits, giving up any chance of winning (something that was already unlikely) and went looking for the fastest lap, which he achieved at the final banner with 1min11s097, ensuring the record and one more point in the championship.