Dutch GP: Max Verstappen strengthens grip on F1 title with victory on home soil

Verstappen dashed past Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages as a safety car farce drove 100,000 Dutch fans crazy in Zandvoort.

The 24-year-old crossed the finish line for his second straight win at the Dutch Grand Prix, greeted by a sea of ​​orange flares and orange shirts.

Mercedes’ George Russell tied his best finish in F1 with a distant second, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc third and Hamilton looking likely to challenge for a while Verstappen’s victory ended in a disappointing fourth-place finish.

“It’s not an easy game, but we have to push,” Verstappen told Sky Sports after the game. “Of course there is the safety car, the virtual safety car, to make the right decisions.

“Winning the home Grand Prix is ​​always special. I have to work even harder this year. An incredible weekend and I’m really happy that we won the Dutch Grand Prix. I’m proud to be Dutch.”

safety car chaos

Yuki Tsunoda and AlphaTauri caused some safety car drama midway through the race.

After a relatively easy start to the race, a bizarre series of events began on lap 45, with Yuki Kakuda pulling his car to the side of the track, seemingly concerned that one of his tires had come loose.

The safety car was imminent, and his team told Kakuda that his tires were fine, and the Japanese driver continued his race, only slowly making his way into the pits. The AlphaTauri pit crew checked Kakuda’s wheels and his seat belt, then determined that everything was in order and sent their men back to the race.

Almost immediately, however, Kakuda sensed again that something was wrong with his car and was eventually told by the team to stop on the track.

Virtual safety allowed AlphaTauri’s home team, Red Bull, to save valuable time, while Verstappen went into the pits for a new set of tyres, putting the Dutchman back in the lead and ahead of Hamilton and Russell.

That wasn’t the end of the drama, however, as an engine failure forced Valtteri Bottas to stop his Alfa Romeo on the main straight, causing the safety car to be deployed.

Mercedes initially kept both Hamilton and Russell on the track, while Red Bull took Verstappen into the pits for another set of new tyres, causing him to drop to third.

But Russell did go into the pits after asking for a tyre change, giving Verstappen a clear advantage in Hamilton and an easy overtake when the safety car returned and race resumed.

Shortly after seeing his teammates overtake him, a furious Hamilton berated his team over the radio. “I can’t believe how much influence you guys have on me,” he said.

“Sorry Lewis,” Hamilton’s race engineer Pete Bonington told his drivers after the race, according to Sky Sports. “It looks good, but we’ll sit back and review the decisions we made there.”

That will bring little consolation, though, as Hamilton is still awaiting his first race win of the season.

Verstappen’s victory extended his lead in the drivers’ championship to 109 points. With seven races remaining in the season, it will take something extraordinary to prevent him from winning a second consecutive F1 title.

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