Verstappen basks in victory after tricky home Dutch GP

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme. 04.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Race
© XPB 

Max Verstappen was in peerless form once again as he claimed his second home Grand Prix win in a row with victory in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort - although it wasn't quite such a runaway victory as it had been in Spa.

Starting from pole and leading the early laps, Verstappen was forced to hand over the lead to Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and George Russell who were running a long first stint on mediums.

Verstappen was back in charge by the time a late Virtual Safety Car for Yuki Tsunoda and then a full safety car for Valtteri Bottas allowed opportunistic extra pit stops that put Hamilton ahead again.

Verstappen and Russell benefitted by making late stops, but Hamilton didn't and dropped from P1 to P4 in the final laps, losing out to Ferrari's Charles Leclerc for third as he raged at the Mercedes pit wall.

Circuit atmosphere - fans in the grandstand. 04.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Race

The Zandvoort grandstands were once again packed to capacity with excited fans - the vast majority of them wearing orange in support of local hero Max Verstappen. On a fresh set of soft tyres, the Red Bull led the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to the grid followed by Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton for the start of the Dutch Grand Prix. The cars were sparkling in the late summer sunshine by the seaside, although track temperature was notably down on Saturday which would have a bearing on tyre wear in the race.

When the lights went out, Verstappen made the most of his hard-earned pole position spot and quickly blasted away from his rivals who were on used softs. Hamilton held on to fourth from Sergio Perez and even made slight contact with Sainz into the first corner, despite initially making a slow start on the slower medium tyres. Meanwhile Lando Norris used the opportunity to get the jump on George Russell who was likewise on the yellow-walled compound. Behind them, Lance Stroll made a good getaway and forced his way past Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda for eighth, with Esteban Ocon dispatching Pierre Gasly to follow in the Aston's tyre marks and slot into ninth.

It had been a generally clear start, but on lap 2 Kevin Magnussen was into the gravel after a slight tap from Williams' Alex Albon. The Haas was able to continue, but had dropped to the back of the running order by the time Magnussen manhandled it back on track having radioed the pit wall that the VF-22 felt okay despite the mishap. Soon afterwards, Russell had a cleaner experience regaining his dropped spot from Norris through turn 1 on lap 4.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18 leads at the start of the race. 04.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Race

Verstappen quickly pulled away from his rivals and by lap 10 had moved out of DRS range of Leclerc. Sainz had dropped more than four seconds away from his team mate and came under sustained pressure from Hamilton who was currently safe from attack from Perez, as Russell started to close the gap behind him having now convincingly dropped Norris who was having to focus on staying ahead of Norris, Stroll, Ocon and Schumacher. Further back, Fernando Alonso finally managed to dispatch Gasly down the inside of turn 1 to put the Alpine up to 12th place.

Lap 11 saw the first of the scheduled pit tops with Sebastian Vettel coming in to exchange his soft tyres for mediums in a bid to break out of the DRS train he'd got stuck in. Gasly was in next time around, followed by McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo. That forced Alonso to pit on the following lap in order to maintain his advantage over the AlphaTauri, but he chose to move to the hard tyres for the next stint.

Tsunoda and Schumacher were next to pit, giving Alonso the chance to undercut them both. Then it was time for Sainz and Perez to pit on lap 15 - but it was a disaster at Ferrari with the left rear tyre apparently not ready in time meaning that he was stationary for 11 seconds before being released. "Oh. My. God!" was Sainz' horrified response over the team radio. There was also a problem at Red Bull, with Perez running over a wheel gun that had been left out of place.

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari F1-75 makes a pit stop. 04.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Race

Leclerc's stop on lap 18 was fortunately drama-free, and Verstappen's stop a lap later was slightly sedate but still more than enough for him to keep relative track position over the Ferrari. For now though it was the two Mercedes who had started on the mediums who were in the lead, possibly eyeing a future move to the hard tyres in a bid to one-stop the race while everyone else had to stop twice. That might have been the plan, but it wasn't going to wok out like that in the end.

In preparation for the Mercedes pair coming in, Verstappen was instructed to close up on Russell, while behind him Leclerc was putting in a purple middle sector to apply pressure on the Red Bull. Behind Perez, Sainz' fumbled service had put him down to sixth place ahead of the yet-to-stop Albon followed by Norris (now on hard tyres), Stroll and Alonso. Albon finally came in for his first stop on lap 22, promoting Ocon into the top ten with both Alpines now on the hard compound.

With the help of his fresher tyres, Verstappen had managed to hunt down Russell and now with the aid of DRS he swept past the Mercedes down the straight at the start of lap 28. The team responded by calling Hamilton in from the lead, switching him to the hard compound in a flawless stop, and soon after it was Russell's turn to come in and shed the well-worn mediums he had started the race on.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75. 04.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Race

Verstappen now held a 15s lead over Leclerc, with Perez in third three seconds in front of Hamilton. Russell had slotted back in behind his team mate in fifth with a comfortable margin over Sainz, Norris, Stroll, Alonso and Ocon as everyone took a breath and waited to see what would happen next in terms of tyre degradation and race strategy. Tsunoda was just outside the points, followed by Zhou Guanyu, although the Alfa Romeo rookie had incurred a five second penalty for speeding in pit lane.

The two Mercedes were looking fast on their new set of tyres, with Hamilton launching an attack on Perez for third place around the outside of turn 1 on lap 36. Perez locked up and ran wide, nearly taking out Hamilton who was forced to back off. Battle between the pair was reconvened one lap later and this time the situation was complicated by Vettel emerging from pit lane in the middle of the corner, which nearly allowed Perez to mount a successful counterattack. Hamilton finally came out on top but had lost three seconds on the top two; Perez meanwhile had nothing left in his locker when Russell came calling on lap 38. Vettel meanwhile was handed a penalty for ignoring blue flags in the melee.

Meanwhile at the front Verstappen and his race engineer were having a relaxed conversation that sounded like they were discussing what to have for tea. Verstappen was asked what were his "thoughts on tyre compounds" and he opined that he was no fan of the mediums. Shortly afterwards on lap 41, Perez was in for his second stop, switching to the hard tyres possibly in a case of the team wanting some data about how the compound was performing at this stage of the weekend. He emerged in seventh and immediately got his head down chasing Norris.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13. 04.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Race

Leclerc meanwhile was being informed by the Ferrari pit wall that "the medium is faster than expected on the Mercedes", as Hamilton demonstrated by continuing to eat into the gap between them to the tune of a second and a half per lap. Sainz had just pitted on lap 44 when Yuki Tsunoda suddenly pulled over to the side of the track declaring that the tyres hadn't been fitted properly during his own just-completed second stop. However the AlphaTauri team disagreed and told him they were, and ordered him to get going again. He did so, but was running very slowly before he pitted where the mechanics spent considerable time working in the cockpit before sending him back out. He still couldn't get up to speed and finally pulled over for a second time between turns 4 and 5, this time permanently.

In the meantime Leclerc had made his stop in the hopes of benefitting from a safety car that hadn't materialised. He was already back out by the time that the AlphaTauri's second demise finally triggered a Virtual Safety Car on lap 48, and all hell broke loose on pit lane as everyone sought to take advantage of the situation with Norris and Alonso first to come in. Verstappen also dived down pit lane, the VSC saving him some ten seconds, and the Mercedes crew scrambled to seize the opportunity to double-stack Hamilton and Russell.

Verstappen took the restart on a new set of hard tyres, with Hamilton now on mediums ruing the VSC that had "stuffed us" but still on course for second ahead of Russell. Ferrari had lost out badly with Leclerc six seconds behind on the mediums as were Perez, Ocon and Sainz. McLaren had gambled on soft tyres for Norris in eighth ahead of the similarly-shod Alonso, with Lance Stroll still running in the top ten ahead of Gasly and Albon.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13 leads behind the Mercedes FIA Safety Car through the pit lane. 04.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Race

The big battle was now between Norris and Alonso, with the Spaniard throwing his Alpine around the outside of turn 1 only to be run wide by Norris. Ahead of them, Sainz managed to pass Ocon for sixth but did so in a section of the track with yellow flags flying for Valtteri Bottas having pulled over to the side of the main straight to retire with engine failure. This time the marshals needed a full safety car to retrieve the stricken Alfa, and Red Bull immediately responded by pitting Verstappen again to switch him from the hard tyres to a final set of softs. Sainz also stopped again, and but incurred a five-second penalty for an unsafe release after he pulled out ahead of Alonso.

And Mercedes? Neither Hamilton nor Russell were tempted to pit again. They stayed out to assume first and second ahead of Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, Sainz, Alonso, Norris, Ocon and Stroll. Next lap by, Hamilton did head for pit lane - but everyone followed suit, not to stop but to avoid the site of Bottas' retirement where the marshals were still working. This time Russell made a snap call to use the moment to switch to softs, allowing Verstappen to move up to second place. It left Hamilton exposed at the front, under pressure and feeling like a sitting duck on mediums. He was distinctly unamused at being abandoned by his team mate as the race resumed with 12 laps remaining.

Verstappen wasted no time in pouncing, using the tow to devastating effect to almost instantly take back the lead and pull away to claim victory. Moments later, Russell lined up a move of his own on his team mate, and Hamilton left it late to defend. Team orders were definitely not involved, but both cars made it through and Russell duly snatched second place. It left Hamilton in a desperate defence from Leclerc and Sainz who were closing fast. "I can't believe you guys **** me man, I'm so ***** angry now," Hamilton raged over the team radio.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18 takes the chequered flag at the end of the race. 04.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Race

Leclerc took care of the Mercedes on lap 66 to put himself on the podium, leaving Hamilton fending off Sainz, although the Ferrari's existing penalty made the battle somewhat moot; in fact, it even aided Hamilton as Sainz was getting in the way of Perez, Alonso, Norris, Ocon and Stroll who were queued up behind. In the end, the penalty dropped Sainz to eighth behind Norris.

Losing out on points today were Gasly, Albon, Schumacher, Vettel, Magnussen, Zhou and Ricciardo with Nicholas Latifi finishing off the lead lap and Bottas and Tsunoda the two late retirements.

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter