The 2021 Dutch Grand Prix didn’t feature the level of drama and unpredictability that the 2021 Formula 1 season has treated us to in recent races, but it still featured a mixture of star performers and underwhelming drives.
Max Verstappen claimed his seventh victory of the season to take the F1 points lead from his main F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton, while Pierre Gasly starred in the midfield fight.
Here’s how Edd Straw rated the field’s performances across the Dutch GP weekend.
Started: 2nd Finished: 2nd
While Hamilton didn’t have the pace of Verstappen through Turn 2, which also compromised his run through Turn 3, he ended up just 0.038s slower in qualifying. Given he gave away 0.172s through the first sector, that reveals much about the quality of the lap he did produce, although even with the Mercedes advantage in the last sector – on top of Verstappen’s DRS problem – it wasn’t quite enough.
But it was still an excellent lap that so nearly allowed him to grab pole position.
After losing touch with Verstappen on the first lap, Hamilton hung in there and did everything he could to cause problems for the leader. But he was never really in range to mount an attack, although he did briefly get close as Verstappen was battling his way past Bottas. Managed the tyres well on a proactive strategy and kept the pressure up.
VERDICT: Pressed Verstappen all the way in a car that lacked that last couple of tenths.
Started: 3rd Finished: 3rd
Bottas was on good form at Zandvoort, although he never quite looked like he could get into the fight for pole position. His first run in Q3 was a strong one, fractionally quicker than Hamilton.
He was on course to improve, albeit only to a lap that would have consolidated third, when he braked a little late into the tight Turn 11 right-hander and took a bite of the gravel in the transition to Turn 12, ensuring he did not improve.
Bottas headed into the race knowing he was on the one-stopper as part of the Mercedes attempt to pull a pincer movement on Verstappen. He lost touch in the first stint, which was probably down to a 50/50 split between the need to manage the tyres and not having that last edge of race pace, but a small error while trying to hold back Verstappen meant he lost the lead he picked up when the top two pitted.
From there, he wasn’t a factor – save for his brief taking of the fastest lap after the late extra pitstop, which was only a half-hearted show of defiance given he did lift off over the line to ensure Hamilton would be able to reclaim it.
VERDICT: A good weekend, but just off Hamilton’s level.
Started: Pits Finished: 8th
Perez never looked like he could replicate Verstappen’s pace, but his challenge would have been to get ahead of a Mercedes or two. Unfortunately, he never had the chance to thanks to a combination of his poor banker lap on his first Q1 run and failing to get to the line in time for a flier on his final run.
While traffic and being at the back of the queue was a big part of that, he could have made it had he gunned it earlier on the run to Turn 13.
Started from the pits after taking a fresh power unit, but was effectively starting from scratch again when he pitted at the end of lap 8 thanks to a flatspot picked up while attacking Mazepin, who he felt moved to defend too late into Turn 1, leading to the lockup.
Used the Red Bull’s pace to good effect to make up places, both with on-track passes and strategy with a relatively long middle stint, but after surviving contact with Norris while taking ninth place then passing Ocon, he couldn’t quite find his way past Sainz.
VERDICT: Didn’t have Verstappen’s pace and played his part in his Q1 elimination – and despite a charging drive that was compromised by his early lock-up.
Started: 1st Finished: 1st
Verstappen always looked destined for pole position, but it wasn’t quite as convincing as it should have been. While he did produce two laps good enough for pole position (his first-run time was identical to Hamilton’s second, but set first and therefore classified ahead), an accidental double upshift at Turn 3 cost him time, then the DRS didn’t open on the run to the line.
To the delight of the home crowd, it was still enough.
Made an excellent start, which ensured he was out of reach of any attack from Hamilton. He was never completely comfortable given Hamilton wasn’t far behind, but didn’t put a foot wrong despite the twin pressures of his pursuer and the expectant crowd, taking a memorable home victory.
VERDICT: The Turn 3 error in qualifying is a minor negative but in the race, he never missed a beat.
Started: 10th Finished: 11th
While Norris struggled in qualifying, Ricciardo was about where you might expect him to be. He put in a decent banker lap on his first Q2 run, which ensured he had a place in the final part of qualifying. But in practice, he looked a step behind Norris.
Survived a scare at the start when his right-side clutch paddle hit trouble, forcing him to start using the less familiar left-side one. He only lost one place off the line to Russell, but repassed him and jumped Giovinazzi to run 11th. After his stop, his chase of the Alpines was suspended for a few laps when he was asked to back up Russell and Stroll to ensure Norris could pit and emerge ahead of them.
He then let Norris past and was shuffled out of the points by the charging Perez.
VERDICT: Did a better job of qualifying than Norris, but despite playing the team game in the race, he wasn’t likely to beat the Alpines or Perez even with a clear run.
Started: 13th Finished: 10th
Looked good in practice, but felt that McLaren took a step backwards setup wise in terms of generating the grip and therefore confidence. While the red flag cost him his second Q2 run, Norris was honest enough to admit that even if he’d got a lap in, there’s no guarantee he would have made the top 10 given his earlier qualifying laps were tidy, but not that quick.
Norris was contained in 13th place in the first stint, but ran long and overcut his way past Stroll and Russell (with the help of Ricciardo briefly being ordered to hold them up) having already jumped Giovinazzi when the Alfa Romeo driver had his puncture. Ricciardo let him past after his stop, but Norris was shuffled back to 10th when Perez past him – a battle he was fortunate to survive after the two cars made heavy contact in Turn 1.
VERDICT: An unusually lacklustre performance, even factoring in McLaren’s struggles.
Started: 15th Finished: 13th
Despite spending more of FP1 as a fireman than an F1 driver after an engine failure, Vettel looked to have the pace for Q1. Unfortunately, he didn’t put in a decent banker lap on his first run, then encountered traffic in the form of the two Haas drivers at the end of his final lap, preventing him improving.
Took an aggressive approach with an early first stop, although his progress was hindered by a spin at Turn 3 while threatening Giovinazzi that cost him places to Latifi and Tsunoda. When he could deploy it, his pace was good and he passed Latifi, Kubica and Giovinazzi late on to take 13th.
VERDICT: His qualifying misfortune cost him badly on a weekend when he was quick, although the spin during the race counts against him.
Started: 12th Finished: 12th
Headed into qualifying with a realistic expectation of making Q3 having shaded Vettel in FP3, but his first flier in Q2 wasn’t quick enough. He gave away a quarter of a second to his previous best in sector one and despite a stronger finish to the lap, it wasn’t enough given he didn’t get a second run thanks to the red flags.
Running on an orthodox strategy, Stroll effectively held position throughout much of the race. Perez and Norris got ahead of him and he benefitted from Giovinazzi’s puncture and Russell’s late problem to finish in the 12th place he started in.
VERDICT: Solid enough, but didn’t deliver the pace he could have done in qualifying.
Started: 9th Finished: 6th
Alonso was taking the most extreme line of all drivers through the banked Turn 3 and looked at home on the track. But despite that, he was generally a fraction off of team-mate Ocon and the same was true throughout qualifying.
A good banked lap in Q2 also ensured he was in Q3, which could have been marginal had everyone had their second run.
Alonso’s first lap was a dramatic one, with several lairy moments and an attacking run through the Turn 3 banking adding up to seventh place. Then his race was all about chasing Sainz, initially losing ground then coming on strongly at the end of the race to pass him at the start of the last lap – but only after almost crashing in Turn 3 a few laps from home.
VERDICT: An aggressive drive paid off, despite several near-misses.
Started: 8th Finished: 9th
Looked to have a slight edge on Alonso during qualifying, although the final gap was only 0.023s after Ocon had a slightly messy sector 2 that was a tenth or so slower than it should have been. But it was a well-executed qualifying session.
Ocon initialy felt Alonso was holding him up before dropping back from his team-mate. While he held eighth for much of the race, he was unable to keep the charging Perez behind him late on.
VERDICT: Had the edge on Alonso in qualifying, but the situation was reversed in the race.
Started: 5th Finished: 5th
Leclerc was frustrated not to be a place higher, blaming it on a decision to dial in a little more front-wing flap for the final run.
This led to struggling with oversteer, particular in sector two where he had a few snaps – notably out of Turn 10, and left him behind Gasly.
Leclerc’s race is best described as one of being ‘very fifth’. He held fifth in the first stint and then through most of the second. But in both stints, he was able to chip away at Gasly’s advantage, although any possibility of a late battle ended when he lost almost five seconds to Gasly from laps 63-65 while being lapped.
VERDICT: A good weekend, but the fractional underachievement in qualifying ultimately cost him a place on Sunday.
Started: 6th Finished: 7th
Missing the apex by 20cm at Turn 2 put him a little wide at the exit and led to him spinning backwards into the Turn 3 barrier in FP3.
After that less than ideal preparation and the team’s rapid repair job, he was always a step behind Leclerc given he lost his quali simulation run, but did well to end up just a hundredth behind after an excellent final lap.
Sainz held sixth behind team-mate Leclerc at the start, but never seemed to have the same pace as his team-mate. While he was able to keep Alonso at arm’s length for much of the race, he was under pressure in the closing stages and was eventually relegated to seventh by a DRS pass at the start of the final lap.
The lack of grip puzzled him, with the speed deficit to Leclerc seemingly growing as the pace progressed.
VERDICT: Recovered well to qualifying close to Leclerc, but was a step behind on pace in the race.
Started: 4th Finished: 4th
A Q3 place never looked in doubt and he produced a massively committed lap on the second run in Q3. He pushed a little too hard in the middle sector, which ultimately cost him a tenth or two, but it was still good enough to get ahead of the Ferraris and take fourth place.
Despite that slight negative, Gasly did well to produce pace he and the team didn’t think was in the car after practice.
There’s very little to say about Gasly’s race as he had fourth place in his grasp throughout. There was a hint of a threat from Leclerc behind thanks to the Ferrari driver having a 10-lap tyre age advantage, but Gasly lost less time being lapped, which took the sting out of any challenge.
VERDICT: Achieved the best possible result in qualifying and the race, albeit not the best possible lap time in Q3.
Started: 14th Finished: DNF
Tsunoda was one of a number of drivers who lamented the timing of the second red flag in Q2 given it denied him a shot on his one remaining fresh set of softs. That meant he had to rely on his used-set time from the front row. Realistically, it’s difficult to see him finding the pace to have made Q3, but this significantly exaggerated the gap to Gasly, which was almost two seconds.
Spent most of the race in 14th place before he was forced to retire with an engine-related problem while on course for what would likely have been a 13th-place finish.
VERDICT: Tidy enough but not especially quick.
Started: 16th Finished: 15th
Thrown into action on Saturday after Kimi Raikkonen’s positive COVID-19 test, Kubica acclimatised to a car he only had 66 laps in three prior FP1 outings well. He improved on each of his three qualifying runs and while he ended up 1.3s off Giovinazzi, had he not struggled with tyre warm up because of traffic on his second run he could easily have shaved three-tenths off. As it was, he lost time in a first sector that was his main challenge but still improved overall on that final run.
Ran 16th early on after holding position on the first lap. In the circumstances, the team was right to opt for a long first stint on mediums, which could have allowed him to make gains thanks to a safety car, but it didn’t come to pass. But that offset did allow him to catch Latifi and pass him on the final lap using the DRS, which combined with Russell’s problem added up to 15th place.
VERDICT: Didn’t put a foot wrong and did as well as the circumstances could conceivably allow.
Started: 7th Finished: 14th
While the red flags made sure of his progress to Q3 for only the second time this season thanks to a strong first run, he showed he had the pace by taking a season’s best seventh with a superb lap in Q3.
Particularly strong in sector one, he strung together his three best sectors to earn his fourth-row spot.
Initially, things went well and he was threatening Sainz for sixth, only to be squeezed onto the grass. He then picked up slight nose damage when he nudged the back of Alonso when the Alpine driver had a big moment, which all added up to 10th at the end of the first lap.
He covered Russell in the pitstops but was soon back into the pits after picking up a puncture. That ruined his race and left him 14th, although without the puncture it’s likely both Norris and Perez would have got ahead and ensured he didn’t score.
VERDICT: Stellar in qualifying and unlucky in the race.
Started: 18th Finished: DNF
This was the first weekend on which Mazepin genuinely looked like he might be able to outpace Schumacher, beating him in FP3 and on the first Q1 runs.
His second Q1 run was a struggle as he felt he lacked a little front end, which perhaps explains his anger when he felt, wrongly, that Schumacher deliberately compromised his final attempt by passing him on the prep lap then backing him up at Turn 13. But attempting to pass Schumacher there was not a wise move and made absolutely sure both of their final attempts were ruined With a clean run, he might well have had the pace to threaten Schumacher.
Mazepin had a poor launch and picked up wheelspin but managed to squeeze past Schumacher through Turns 7/8 on the opening lap. But when Schumacher came back at him on start/finish, Mazepin inexcusably chopped across him and clipped his front wing. From that high of 17th place, slipped to 19th behind Perez and Latifi before retiring with a hydraulics problem.
VERDICT: Showed signs of genuine pace, but it was undermined by immaturity in other aspects.
Started: 17th Finished: 18th
While Schumacher was lambasted by Mazepin after the session, he had asked for permission to overtake his team-mate on the final runs given his need for a significantly faster outlap to achieve the necessary tyre temperature.
But Mazepin’s attempt to repass him in Turn 13 ultimately spoiled both of their final laps. While Mazepin was faster in FP3 and on the first runs in Q1, Schumacher’s second-run time was comfortably quicker.
Schumacher initially held onto his 17th place on the first lap before Mazepin passed him through Turns 7/8. But he had to head to the pits early for a front wing change after picking up damage at the end of the first lap when Mazepin chopped across him on the straight. Thereafter, had a relatively lonely race, with a brief bite of the gravel at Turn 11 later on, to last place.
VERDICT: Not his most convincing weekend pace-wise, but very much distracted and hampered by the intra-team dynamics.
Started: 19th Finished: 16th
Latifi set the fastest Williams lap of the whole weekend on his final Q1 run having required three runs to set a time good enough for Q2. That left him with just one set of fresh softs for Q2, which he was on when the red flag hit. He attempted another run on a set used in Q2 and was on target for a lap in the 1m09.9s bracket when he clipped the grass at the entry to Turn 8 and backed it heavily into the barrier.
Latifi started from the pits, which was a bigger penalty at Zandvoort than normal because of the track configuration. Quickly dispatched Schumacher, who had wing damage, and also pulled a great pass on Mazepin around the outside of Turn 1.
Latifi’s planned two-stopper was converted to a one-stopper but given the difficulty of overtaking it was converted to a one-stopper. That did lift him as high as 14th, but he ended up in what he called a “downward spiral” with time and tyre temperature lost to blue flags. That added up to 16th place thanks to Russell’s late stoppage.
VERDICT: Latifi was stronger than he looked on paper, but the qualifying error hurts his rating.
Started: 11th Finished: 17th
While he didn’t quite go from Spa hero to Zandvoort qualifying zero given he still qualified 11th with the assistance of the later red flag caused by his team-mate, his off at Turn 13 in Q2 was a rare mistake.
While on a lap that might have just been good enough for Q3, he attempted to carry far too much speed into the Turn 13 right-hander, especially on tyres he knew were no longer at their peak grip level, spinning into the barrier. As he put it, “Not good enough from my side”.
Russell made a great start to jump Ricciardo, although had to stand on the brakes to avoid Alonso at Turn 2, allowing Ricciardo to get back around him on the banking. He held 11th place but in his eagerness to try and jump Giovinazzi when both stopped, he picked up a five-second pitlane speeding penalty.
That effectively ruined any chance of points but he would have finished 12th on the road having inevitably lost places to Norris, partly thanks to Ricciardo acting as a rolling roadblock, and Perez (and gained one when Giovinazzi picked up a puncture) but for late gearbox trouble that forced him to stop.
VERDICT: In his own words, “probably too many mistakes on my behalf”.