Verstappen cruises to victory as Hamilton falls behind

Max Verstappen celebrates his second consecutive victory in the Dutch GP. (Red Bull Race Photo)

For the second year in a row, Max Verstappen took the top step of the podium in his home race at Circuit Zandvoort.

The Red Bull Racing driver flew past Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes on the final restart and set course for his tenth victory of the season in the Dutch Grand Prix.

“Today was quite hectic and not at all an easy race, we had to make the right choices and everything went well in the end,” said Verstappen. “Mercedes was very fast on the hardest compounds, which we didn’t expect, so it made it more difficult for us because we were less compatible with the hard ones.

“We managed everything well and we made the right choices on the strategy so well done at the team here and at the factory. It’s always special to win your Grand Prix at home, but this year I have had to work even harder to achieve it. It’s amazing to win again in front of this crowd, we had incredible support here and I’m proud to be Dutch.

The race seemed to be in Mercedes’ hands, with Hamilton and team-mate George Russell holding on tight, having stretched out their stint on the medium tyres.

After another series of pit stops on lap 48 under a virtual safety car, Verstappen held serve, with Hamilton and Russell close behind.

However, another safety car on lap 55 ended Hamilton’s hopes of victory.

Under yellow, Hamilton stayed away to inherit the lead from Verstappen as the Dutch driver switched to soft tyres.

From there, Verstappen would take the lead around Hamilton and take the win.

Hamilton would lose podium places to Charles Leclerc of Russell and Ferrari, before eventually finishing fourth.

“Today we were really challenged with the VSCs and the Safety Cars,” said Hamilton. “I think the strategy and the car had been so good so far, the pit stops were fantastic, the best we’ve had all year and that really relieved me. Especially after such a turbulent year, we haven’t had a win since Saudi Arabia last year. So it was finally there, within reach, but of course the safety car really didn’t help. But the guys were really, really on it, we were all on it and I was really hoping we were going to get a 1-2 together as a team.

“But seeing how it went after the final safety car and the setback, I was just on the verge of breaking point with the emotions and my apologies to the team because I don’t even remember what I said on the radio, I just lost it for a second,” Hamilton continued. “But I think they know there’s so much passion and I want to watch today like a shot glass. half full – we’ve come here struggling since the last race and were battling against the Red Bulls today, we were faster than most by many points. Without the safety car I think we would have challenged them for the win at the end of the one stop, which I don’t think the others could do. So many good things to take away from this weekend – the car was finally working. If it can be the same in future races, we will continue to breathe down their necks and we will achieve this victory.

It was a stellar race for Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who jumped from 13th to sixth in the running order.

Haas F1’s Mick Schumacher would finish 13th, having made a surprise appearance in Q3 on Saturday. Schumacher’s teammate Kevin Magnussen ended his day in 15th position, after hitting a barrier on lap two.

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