Home hero Verstappen wins first Dutch GP since 1985 to reclaim championship lead

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas came second and third, respectively, to complete the podium

By Yuri Coghe
‘We can be really pleased with the whole team performance today,’ said Verstappen after the race (Photo: F1/Twitter)

It’s been 13,160 days since the last time the Netherlands hosted a Formula 1 Grand Prix back in 1985.

For Dutch racing fans, it was well worth the wait.

Home hero Max Verstappen cruised to victory from pole position on Sunday to claim his 16th career win and regain the top of the drivers’ championship. The 23-year-old put on a great, flawless performance that allowed Mercedes no chance to snatch the lead from him despite attempting different strategies to do so.

The German team delayed Valtteri Bottas’ first pit stop so he could potentially hold Verstappen back on track. But the Dutchman wasted no time to catch up to the Finn and overtake him on lap 32, ten laps after his own pit-stop, immediately starting to extend the gap to Lewis Hamilton again.

“The expectations here were so high and that’s not always easy. But it’s an amazing feeling and the crowd here were incredible as you can see,” said Verstappen after the race. “We can be really pleased with the whole team performance today.”

Dutch DJ Tiesto handled checkered flag duties as singer Davina Michelle, also from the Netherlands, sang the national anthem live during the podium ceremony to make it a complete Dutch party at Zandvoort.

Lewis Hamilton finished second and set the fastest lap in the very last lap of the Grand Prix to claim an extra point. He started the race leading the championship by three points and leaves the 13th GP of the season seeing the gap change hands. It’s now Verstappen 224.5, Hamilton 221.5 with nine races to go.

“What a race, what a crowd, it’s been an amazing weekend,” Hamilton said. “Max did an amazing job, so huge congratulations to him.”

The Briton complained on team radio about the strategy chosen by Mercedes, particularly the timing for his second pit stop that left him having to deal with traffic when leaving the pit lane.

Hamilton’s teammate Bottas finished third to claim a 63rd career podium and jump ahead of Lando Norris for third in the standings.

“We tried for a one-stop strategy so it was a long stint for me at the beginning. In the end, we didn’t have enough pace to trouble Red Bull,” said Bottas. “The crowd here has been really great all weekend and really supportive, so I want to say thank you.”

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AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished fourth to maintain his career-high starting position and capitalize on a strong weekend. It’s the third time the 2020 Italian GP winner finishes in the top-5 this season.

The Frenchman beautifully overtook Fernando Alonso early in the race to make sure he was a part of the Dutch GP’s highlight reel.

Two-time world champion Alonso, sixth, claimed his second-best result of the season to split the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc, fifth, and Carlos Sainz Jr, seventh. The Italian team made the best of a circuit that suited their car to regain third in the teams’ standings, leapfrogging McLaren.

Alonso himself also provided one of the best moves of the race when overtaking fellow Spaniard Sainz Jr. on the very last lap.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez started from the pit lane and made his way to eighth, enjoying late overtakes on Esteban Ocon, ninth, and the McLarens of Norris, tenth, and Daniel Ricciardo, eleventh, to cap off his driver of the day-worthy recovery race.

Perez made contact with Norris when overtaking the young Briton, who aggressively tried to hold on to his position. It was the first time in the last four races that Perez finished in the top-10.

Canadians Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi finished in P12 and P16, respectively, both one position ahead of their teammates, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and William’s George Russell.

Vettel, who got eliminated in the Q1 on Saturday, spun on lap 38 to further compromise his race weekend.

Latifi, who started from the pitlane behind Perez as Williams had to change some parts of his car following his Q2 crash on Saturday, enjoyed a beautiful move around the outside to overtake Nikita Mazepin at turn 1 early in the race.

“It was always going to be a tricky afternoon starting from the pitlane,” he said on Twitter. “A few overtakes and an electric crowd and atmosphere were the highlights for me.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, who equalled a career-high starting position by qualifying seventh on Saturday, failed to translate that into championship points, finishing in 14th. The Italian crossed the line one position ahead of veteran Polish driver Robert Kubica, who took over for Kimi Raikkonen after the Finn tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.

Mick Schumacher, 18th, finished last of the drivers who completed the race. His Haas teammate Mazepin retired on lap 43 due to hydraulic issues, while the third rookie in the grid, Yuki Tsunoda retired seven laps after Mazepin, also due to car issues.

F1 is back next weekend for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza when the sprint qualifying system will make the second of three appearances this season.

See the full Dutch Grand Prix results below:

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